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.
Information and Referral Services
2-1-1 California: Changing the Way Californians Find Help
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. The goal of 2-1-1 California is to ensure all California residents have access to 2-1-1 through a connected, statewide network. Currently, 92 percent of the state’s population has access to 2-1-1. Nationally, 2-1-1 covers 80 percent of the US population.
Hear from real people using 2-1-1
Watch this YouTube video that shows how United Way of Monterey County's 2-1-1 system helps residents access desperately needed services.
Examples of services people can access by calling 2-1-1
- Food and Housing Resources: food banks, clothing, housing and rental and mortgage assistance.
- Health Services: access to health care for the uninsured or under-insured, prenatal care, medical information lines.
- Mental Health and Crisis Support: crisis intervention, counseling, substance abuse assessment and treatment.
- Income Support: Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) assistance, job training, and education programs.
- Help for Seniors and People with Disabilities: adult day care, Meals on Wheels, respite care, home health care, and transportation.
- Resources for Children and Families: child care, after school programs, family resource centers, and tutoring.
- Emergency and Disaster Response: including information, volunteer screening and charitable contributions options.
The 2-1-1 Experience: Who is Calling and the Professionals Who Help Them
- 1.6 million Californians called 2-1-1 in 2009, 70 percent of whom were seeking health and human service needs.
- In Los Angeles in 2009, three of four callers were female, 56 percent were Latino and 70 percent had children in the family, half of whom were under 12 years of age.
The Call Specialists:
- 2-1-1 information and referral service providers connect people to trained specialists who can help them. Going beyond simply answering calls, they know how to communicate, glean information from the caller, probe for additional needs and make the appropriate referrals.
Benefits of Statewide, Connected 2-1-1 System
Greater Efficiency and Cost Savings:
- Having one central number for state and local agencies streamlines referral process and reduces costs associated with multiple 800#s.
- Directs non-emergency calls away from 911 during times of disaster, allowing first-responders to better focus on emergency response.
Critical Information Gathering:
- Local 2-1-1s track all calls received and are able to provide state and local agencies with critical information about on-going needs in the state broken down by geography, ethnicity, income and other factors.
Costs of Building out 2-1-1 Network
- Achieving statewide 2-1-1 coverage will require approximately $4 million investment in infrastructure, data integration, networking and training. Total annual operating costs estimated at $30 million.
Benefits of a statewide, connected 2-1-1 system:
- 2-1-1 protects public safety in emergencies and disasters.
- Relieves 911 call volume, allowing faster response to emergency calls.
- Plays a major role in disaster response. 2-1-1 in Southern California handled 130,000 calls in the 5 days after the Oct 2007 wild fires.
- 2-1-1 is in the Federal Bioterrorism Act, part of infrastructure needed for disaster preparedness.
- 2-1-1 reduces taxpayer costs.
- Directs non-emergency calls away from the more costly 911.
- Efficiently uses limited resources by streamlining the referral process, and reduces costs associated with statewide 800#s.
Costs and Cost Savings:
- Achieving statewide 2-1-1 coverage will require approximately $2 million investment in infrastructure, data integration and networking.
- Total annual operating costs estimated at $30 million.
- 2-1-1 will save the state millions annually when fully operational.