In July 2000, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reserved the 211 dialing code for community information and referral services. The FCC intended the 211 code as an easy-to-remember and universally recognizable number that would enable a critical connection between individuals and families in need and the appropriate community-based organizations and government agencies. Currently, active 211 systems cover all or part of 50 states. As of February 2015, 2-1-1 serves over 291 million Americans (93% of the entire population) covering portions of all 50 states (including 41 states with 90%+ coverage) plus Washington DC and Puerto Rico. Yet, millions of Americans still need to be connected to make 2-1-1 accessible nationwide.
Types of Referrals Offered by 211: 211 provides callers with information about and referrals to social services for every day needs and in times of crisis. For example, 2-1-1 can offer access to the following types of services:
- Basic Human Needs Resources – including food and clothing, shelters, housing, utility assistance.
- Disaster Response and Recovery – works with the emergency management team during a disaster to offer support and place for dissemination of information.
- Mental Health and Health Resources – including counseling, support groups, drug and alcohol treatment, health insurance programs, Medicaid and Medicare, maternal health resources, health insurance programs for children, medical information lines, clinics, and hospitals.
- Employment Supports – including job training, employment services, transportation assistance and education programs.
- Older Adults and Persons with Disabilities – including adult day care, community meals, respite care, home health care, transportation and homemaker services.
- Children, Youth and Family Support – including child care, after school programs, educational programs for low income families, family resource centers, and recreation programs, mentoring, tutoring and protective services.
- Volunteer Opportunities and Donations – Individuals who wish to donate time, goods or money to community organizations can find this information by dialing 211.