On my way home I needed to pick up some items and dashed in a liquor store and about half way through I found myself crying! A homeless man asked me what the problem was and I said, “They are going to pull the plug on my dad tomorrow and I can’t even contact the doctor to talk to him about it!” The homeless man, said “Oh, you need to call 211, they will help you.”
And I said “They can’t possibly help me with this.” The homeless man said “Oh yes, they help with just about everything!” So the next morning I called 211 and someone on the line said they would help me. He called somewhere on my behalf with me and right after that the doctor called and we made a plan for my dad to recover…he is 81 years old now, in a wheelchair, but I have my dad… and I have 211 to thank.
What is 2-1-1?
2-1-1 is a free phone number and online database that connects Californians quickly and effectively to existing health and human service programs, joblessness support and disaster response information in their communities. It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and in 150 different languages.
Currently, 96 percent of the state’s population in 35 counties has access to 2-1-1. Nationally, 2-1-1 covers 80 percent of the US population.
2-1-1 information and referral providers connect people of all income levels and language and cultural backgrounds to resources tailored to their needs and circumstances, taking into account accessibility, eligibility requirements and other factors through live assistance from certified I & R specialists or online.
2-1-1 Services in California
In 2014, over 1.7 million Californians called 2-1-1 for help finding needed community services such as rent and mortgage assistance, food and shelter, healthcare, job training, transportation, childcare, and senior care. For example, 2-1-1 services have been important gateways for enrolling low- and moderate-income families in health insurance programs, including Healthy Families and county-based Children's Health Initiatives. In the same year, over 1 million unique hits were tracked on 211 websites across the State.
2-1-1 also plays a critical role in providing information and support in times of disaster, such as evacuation, shelter, food, medical and recovery information, and providing public officials with feedback from callers about changing conditions. For example, in 2007 during the San Diego wild fires local 2-1-1s handled 130,000 calls in 5 days.
2-1-1 information and referral providers currently serve the following California counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Fresno, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Marin, Mendocino, Monterey, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Tulare, and Ventura.
2-1-1 US leads the development nationwide 2-1-1information and referral service, and is a partnership of United Way Worldwide (UWW) and the Alliance for Information and Referral Systems (AIRS).
Authority for the operation of 2-1-1- information and referral services using the three-digit dialing code was first enacted by the Federal Communications Commission in 2000. The Commission charged each state with the task of implementing the 2-1-1 program. The FCC's regulatory framework was based upon the set of national program and operational standards put forward by the United Way of America and the Alliance of Information and Referral Services, the two major national leaders in the 2-1-1 movement.
California Public Utilities Commission
In California, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) authorizes one qualifying local agency in a County the use of the 2-1-1- dial code. This designation allows the lead agency to provide the 2-1-1 referral services for the County. Information and referral centers seeking to utilize the 2-1-1 dial code must apply directly to the CPUC for rights to use this special three digit dialing code.