Dec 8, 2008

A resource for the newly poor: 211

Yesterday's LA Times had an interesting article on a county service I'd never heard of before: 211. Like 411 and 911, 211 is a phone service that's available 24/7. It provides access to health and human services programs throughout the county.

Here's how they work, according to their web site:
Callers to 2-1-1 begin by speaking with a live Community Resource Advisor who helps them identify both their, immediate, and long-term need(s). Once the caller's need(s) are determined, the Community Resource Advisor searches in a comprehensive database to locate agencies, programs, and services that can assist the caller to meet his/her needs.

The Community Resource Advisor attempts to locate resources for the caller that are in the caller's community and are free, or low cost. After explaining to the caller what each organization can assist with, the Community Resource Advisor then provides the caller with a variety of possible solutions (referrals) along with the addresses and phone numbers.

In situations where callers are in a crisis situation or find they are unable to resolve their problems without assistance, the Community Resource Advisor will provide additional service for the caller to ensure their success. This may include calling organizations and advocating on the caller's behalf. It may include providing direct phone connection with the organization that can assist the caller, or it may include contacting emergency or law enforcement agencies, if needed, to ensure the caller's safety.
Yesterday's article made 211 sound like a good resource for those who don't know how to begin to find the help available to them - in other words, it's especially good for those who never expected to need such help in their lifetime. If you're online and you want to search the county's database yourself, you can do so at

There's also a national 211 web site, where you can check to see if 211 is available in your city or zip code.

Does anyone know anything more about 211?


Maranda said...

Arkansas has, within the last year, installed the 211 system. It was a big deal when they did it too.

Chief Family Officer said...

@Maranda - Interesting that it was a big deal, since I have no idea when 211 started out here. I'd never heard of it before reading the article. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Here in St Louis 211 is staffed by the United Way. I'm a 911 operator and have refered some callers to it. It's a great resource.

Chief Family Officer said...

@Anon - That's great. Thanks for sharing - I'll definitely keep it in mind as a resource to share.