February 11th is National "2-1-1 Day"
2-1-1 California Helped 1.6 Million Callers Get Answers and Assistance in 2009, Especially as Economic Woes Sent More Families Looking for Help
February 11 (2/11) is official "2-1-1 Day" in recognition of the free, confidential, easy to remember phone number that connects California residents to essential community information and services such as healthcare, rent and mortgage assistance, food and shelter, job training, transportation, childcare, senior care, veteran services and much more. In 2009, local 2-1-1 call centers answered 1.6 million calls for help, and that number continues to grow as more Californians have access to this invaluable referral service.This 2-1-1 day, Nevada County will officially launch its local 2-1-1 service, further expanding the reach of this service to more and more Californians.Particularly during these trying economic times, 2-1-1 is a free resource to connect people to the services and help they most need, such as:
Where to go for food and shelter.
Job assistance and employment resources
What to do if the utilities are turned off.
Where to get free or low-cost health care services.
How to get rent or mortgage assistance
"2-1-1 will be there for Californians on Thursday, February 11 like we are 365 days a year, 24 hours a day," said Maribel Marin, Co-Chair of 2-1-1 California and Executive Director of 2-1-1 L.A. "When a person calls 2-1-1, their call will be answered by a live specialist that will ask a series of questions to determine what services, information or resources are needed to help the caller. And, because we are able to answer calls in 150 languages, 2-1-1 call specialists can really help get information out to the harder-to-reach populations in our community."
Residents, emergency service providers, government entities, non-profit agencies and businesses have all come to understand how 2-1-1 connects people with the services they need, and the annual number of calls to 2-1-1 is on the rise as the economic crisis continues to take its toll. While local 2-1-1 call centers fielded 1.2 million calls from residents in 2008, calls in 2009 totaled over 1.6 million statewide -- roughly a thirty-five percent increase. Nationally, calls to 2-1-1 totaled nearly 16 million in 2009.
"Without 2-1-1, callers can make an average of eight phone calls to different numbers before finding the services they need," said Peter Manzo, President & CEO of the United Ways of California. "2-1-1 cuts through the red tape to save providers time and money, while helping California residents connect with the resources they're looking for."
However, even as the value of 2-1-1 continues to be demonstrated, limited resources remain a barrier to sustainability and nationwide implementation. That's why 2-1-1 supporters continue to push for passage of the "Calling for 2-1-1 Act," federal legislation that would create a federal grant program to complete implementation of a nationwide 2-1-1 system. With 194 co-sponsors in the House and 56 in the Senate, supporters need just 25 more co-sponsors to reach their goal of 211 co-sponsors by February 11, 2010.
"Every day, 2-1-1 call center specialists are helping Californians untangle the web of social and government services available in their community," said Manzo. "While 2-1-1 is currently fully functional in 24 California counties, serving 89 percent of the state's population, we hope the Calling for 2-1-1 Act will someday make our services available to 100 percent of the state's residents. The launch of Nevada County 2-1-1 is proof of our ever expanding presence in this state."