• 2-1-1 Anniversary

    2-1-1 is a centralized clearinghouse for information on community services.  By calling one number, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, people can find out where to get help, and where they can give help or volunteer. The service is used for the day-to-day community service needs and during times of disaster to help disseminate useful information. But it’s not intended for emergency calls – those are transferred at once, and the 2-1-1 call specialist remains on the line until the crisis agency is reached.)

    In the event of an area-wide disaster, 2-1-1, which is connected with the County Office of Emergency Services, will have up-to-date information needed in disaster response efforts, such as locations of evacuation shelters, road closure information, insurance claim processes, and volunteer needs.

    In Monterey County, a collaboration of many organizations and government entities worked together to develop 2-1-1. United Way Monterey County has been designated the 2-1-1 Service Provider by the California Public Utilities Commission and has staff dedicated to operating 2-1-1.

    Monterey County 2-1-1 had its six-month anniversary on Aug. 11, 2009.

    From Feb. 11 through Aug. 7, Monterey County 2-1-1 took 5337 calls that resulted in 9618 referrals to a wide variety of services.

    First-time users made up the majority of callers.  Most learned about 2-1-1 from local non-profits and government agencies.

    “Often people require more than one type of assistance and service providers find it’s most efficient to have their clients call 2-1-1 directly to get the most current information to meet their needs,” said Ronn Rygg, Director of 2-1-1 Monterey County. “2-1-1 unburdens service providers from having to track down information outside their expertise and keep that information continuously updated.”

    In addition, 2-1-1 centralizes the collection of data and is helping to identify unmet needs by capturing requests for which there is no appropriate referral.

    In times of disaster 2-1-1 relieves the burden on 9-1-1 by providing people with vital information about evacuation sites, temporary shelters, road closures, etc.  It’s fast, free, confidential and available in more than 170 languages 24 hours a day.

    Results through Aug. 7, 2009

    *         From Feb 11 through Aug. 7, Monterey County 2-1-1 has served 5337 callers with 9618 referrals.  Most requests were from first-time callers.

    *         The most common requests have been for rental assistance, utility payment, job search, homeless shelters, food bank and community clinics.

    *         2-1-1 budgeted for 10,000 calls and is currently tracking at 11,000 calls for the year.

    *         Services were sought for people ranging in age from infant to 98 years old.

    *         27 percent of callers are men and 67 percent are women.

    *         One out of three calls is conducted in Spanish.

    *         15% of the calls come from South County.

    *         There have been 13 crisis calls, which were successfully transferred to an appropriate crisis service.

    *         2-1-1 was the go-to number for the Monterey County Health Department during the spring pandemic flu event.

    2-1-1 will start pre-screening of selected callers to determine potential eligibility for the Food Stamp program beginning Oct 1st.

    More than 77 percent of the population nationwide now has access to 2-1-1 services, including 244 active 2-1-1 systems covering all or part of 47 states plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico.  Within California, 2-1-1 services are organized at the county level, and have been established in much of the Bay Area and Southern California. The service is available in more than 170 languages at no charge to the calling party. Many of the Call Specialists speak Spanish and interpretation services are available for other languages.  Language Line Services, headquartered in Monterey, provides the interpretation service. The 2-1-1 service is TTY/TDD-capable for the hard of hearing.

    posted to Cedar Street Times on August 27, 2009

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