About Volunteering

Program Description:

The California Youth Crisis Line (CYCL) has been operating for 23 years as a statewide emergency response system for youth and their families. Staff and volunteer crisis counselors respond to callers’ 24-hours a day, seven days a week with crisis intervention counseling, referrals to youth-serving agencies in the caller’s community, a direct connection to resources through a three-way call and a confidential message relay service.

Job Description:

Crisis Counselors respond to callers within agency guidelines and follows protocols accordingly to assist callers using a crisis intervention counseling model, provide referrals to youth-serving agencies and arrange for direct connection to resources through a three-way call and a confidential message relay where appropriate.


The following are minimum qualifications:

  • VALID California driver’s license or identification
  • MUST volunteer a minimum of four (4) hours per week
  • MUST successfully complete the 40-hour induction training program
  • Must commit to at least one (1) year of volunteer service
  • Strong communication skills- particularly, strong listening skills, Word processing, and computer experience
  • Ability to be non-judgmental and supportive of callers
  • Ability to work independently and as a team member
  • Knowledge of clinical issues affecting youth, including but not limited to runaway and street youth issues, child abuse, suicide, gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender/queer or questioning issues, and sexual assault

Key Duties:

Essential duties and responsibilities include the following:

  • Participate in at least one (1) Continuing Education Training session annually
  • Provide crisis intervention counseling and resource referral according to CYCL training standards
  • Participate in quarterly reflection and quality assurance monitoring of crisis calls conducted by supervisors
  • Assist with additional shifts as needed to cover fellow counselors when sickness or emergencies occur

Click here for a complete volunteer description.


To apply to be a volunteer counselor, please complete the online application via Survey Monkey (incomplete applications will not be considered): https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CYCLApplication

Once you complete an application, a staff member will contact you to schedule an interview to take part in our 40-hour training which takes place three times a year.

Volunteer Training

Every volunteer must go through a 40-hour training that takes place three times a year (February, July, and November) in order to become a volunteer counselor. To be admitted into the training, you must submit an application, participate in an interview with the Program Coordinator and pass a background check. The training takes place over a two week time period in the weekday evenings as well as two full-day Saturdays. The training covers the most common issues and challenges that affect youth who call the California Youth Crisis Line. Some examples of these issues are bullying, depression, unplanned pregnancies, domestic violence, and suicide. The training also equips volunteers with the skills and knowledge they need to be effective crisis call counselors.

Volunteer Stories

“I volunteered to become a counselor for CYCL because I wanted to make a difference in my community. No matter how big or small the crisis maybe, I wanted to be the support they need to get through the situation they are going through. My experience at CYCL has been very rewarding. I’ve bonded with my fellow counselors and made connections with callers over the phone. You gain a lot of knowledge volunteering at CYCL and I’m excited to learn more. Knowledge is the first step.”

“Volunteering has always been something that I was interested but I wanted to find the right organization. California Youth Crisis Line was the perfect organization for me because of the service that they offer and who they serve. As a Youth Crisis Line Counselor, I find that I am able to apply all my past experiences and well as my time as a parent. These experiences allow me to offer a unique perspective in those moments where youth communicate that they are having trouble with family or parents. My hope is that in the few moments I get to share with these callers, they know that a parent can listen, no matter how tough the topic maybe and that I can make a positive impact in their lives. The best feedback I received from youth in crisis was that for 15 minutes, he felt like he could talk with his parents without arguing. His statement not only warmed my heart but also communicated that he felt that someone, an adult, was on his side during a tough moment. This is the reason why I choose to volunteer with the California Youth Crisis Line.”

“I wanted to volunteer for the crisis line to get counseling experience so I can become a therapist in the future. I want to encourage people to reach their highest potential, and as a crisis counselor, I have been able to do that and so much more. In a couple of short months, I have already grown as a listener and have become a youth ally. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at the crisis line so far and it has been such a rewarding experience so far to help youth in crisis. Knowing that I am making a difference one call at a time makes me so happy and proud of the work I am doing for the California Coalition for Youth.”