What is 211?
211 is an easy to remember telephone number assigned by the Federal Communications Commission to streamline access to health and human services.
211 is available on a 24-hour basis to connect residents to a wide variety of human services or social services across the state.
If someone needs information or referral services but has little or no prior knowledge or experience, dialing 211 is much simpler than other options. Once the person dials 211, a professional Information and Referral specialist will then either refer or connect that caller to the correct agency based on the services needed.
Callers to 211 can get LIVE assistance with needs such as: food, shelter, counseling, income supports, employment, healthcare, and services for specialized populations such as the elderly and persons with disabilities and much more.
All calls are free, anonymous and confidential.
In 1997 United Way Atlanta launched 211 services to provide callers with information about human services and related community information. United Way and the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems have partnered to promote 211 services nationwide.
Currently 46 states, Washington DC and Puerto Rico are providing 211 services at some level.
Of the states with 211 service, 23 states and Washington DC and Puerto Rico have fully implemented 211 systems i.e. service is accessible to the entire population.
Funding is a major challenge for many states. This challenge has led to the formulation of public/private partnership models whose typical funding sources include local United Ways, community foundations, corporate support and federal and local government. Additionally work must be done to ensure 211 systems are accessible to cell phone callers and callers who are deaf or hard of hearing.
211 in Illinois
A 211 Collaboration Board appointed by the Governor will guide the state's 211 pilot program. The 211 Collaboration Board consists of representatives from: the Governor's Office, Illinois Commerce Commission, Illinois Department of Human Services, Illinois Department of Public Health, Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, Illinois Department of Employment Security, Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, Illinois Department on Aging and Illinois Department of Human Rights. In addition the state of Illinois is working with a host of organizations including local providers of information and referral services, United Way of Illinois and the Illinois Alliance of Information and Referral Systems to bring 211 to individuals in need all across the state.
Illinois Pilot Sites
211 services will be delivered by existing non-profits identified by the state of Illinois who currently provide information and referral services to Illinois communities. These organizations have an established service that can provide quality 211 services on a 24-hour basis. Currently, there are three organizations that serve as Illinois pilot sites:
- United Way 211 in Davenport, IA
County served: Rock Island
- PATH, Inc. in Bloomington
Counties served: McLean, Livingston, and DeWitt
- United Way of Greater St. Louis in St. Louis, MO
Counties served: Calhoun, Clinton, Greene, Jersey, Macoupin, Madison, Monroe, Randolph, and St. Clair
Statewide Implementation Steps
- Research and analysis of 211 development in other states.
- Statewide governance and public policy-development and passage of legislation that designates 211 lead entity, public/private partnership model and requirement for groups receiving state funding to maintain/update their information.
- Evaluate Pilot Programs.
- Establish performance standards that promote consistency, statewide coverage and coordination with a high level of public confidence.
- Secure resources and identify selection process for statewide implementation.
Illinois 2-1-1 Get Connected. Get Answers - DHS 5003
For more information on 211 activities, contact:
Illinois Department of Human Services,
Bureau of Customer & Support Services
Next Talk: (866) 324-5553