211 Issues

What is 2-1-1? 2-1-1 began as a United Way initiative in Atlanta Georgia in 1996 and has evolved into a national initiative. In July 2000 the FCC designated 2-1-1 to be used as an easy access number to community information and referral services. 2-1-1 is the national abbreviated dialing code for free access to health and human services information and referral (I&R). 2-1-1 is an easy-to-remember and universally recognizable number that makes a critical connection between individuals and families in need and the appropriate community-based organizations and government agencies.

2-1-1 serves approximately 165 million Americans – over 55% of the US population. As of June 2006, there are 190 active 2-1-1 systems covering all or part of 38 states (including 13 states with 100% coverage) plus Washington, DC and Puerto Rico. Idaho was the fourth state in the nation to implement 2-1-1 services on a statewide basis.

2-1-1 Implementation in Idaho. The effort to launch 2-1-1 in Idaho took more than five years of community discussion and advocacy and included the persistent support and collaboration of various public and private entities, including the Junior League of Boise, United Way of Treasure Valley, Mountain States Group, Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, and the Governor’s Coordinating Council for Families and Children. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare joined the 2-1-1 Idaho Partnership in 2000 with a commitment to the partnership to provide the services and resources of the Idaho CareLine at its current level of operation. In 2003 Idaho became the fourth state in the nation to provide 2-1-1 services on a statewide level on all land lines in Idaho. Six wireless service providers have also implemented the 2-1-1 service for their customers [AT&T, Edge, Cricket, Nextel, Inland and Sprint PCS (most areas)]. Negotiations are currently underway with Verizon Wireless (implementation target date is December 2006).

In April 2006 the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare assumed the leadership role for future 2-1-1 implementation and development. United Way of Treasure Valley will continue to provide the “Give Help” element of 2-1-1 in Idaho, as well as providing financial support to the Idaho CareLine. This financial support pays for a full-time employee in the Call Center, the hosting fee of the online searchable database, as well as other program expenditures through March 31, 2007. At that time, additional funding requests will need to be submitted through United Way’s Grant Application Process for funding consideration. See the Frequently Asked Questions about 2-1-1 and the Idaho CareLine

Current Idaho 2-1-1 Program Components include:

►Get Help. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, Idaho CareLine, provides the Get Help component of the 2-1-1 system in Idaho through a statewide centralized call center in Boise, Idaho. The statewide web-based searchable resource database is available 24/7.

►Give Help. The United Way of Treasure Valley Volunteer Center provides the “Give Help” component of 2-1-1 in Idaho through a statewide web-based resource database of the Volunteer Center is available 24/7, which lists volunteer opportunities.

As a statewide system, 2-1-1 can fill the following primary roles:

• Provide the general public with high quality telephone access to community I&R services staffed by trained information and referral specialists and complemented by access to information via the Internet;
• Furnish public officials and policy makers with relevant data to support planning and policy development and to secure funding to improve services delivery;
• Seek and obtain sources for additional sustainable funding.
• Connecting those looking to volunteer or donate time or goods with agencies in the community, making volunteering, philanthropy and community involvement easily accessible.
• Serve as an important disaster management tool, distributing information, and connecting those in need to emergency services.