IDHS Announces Plans for a One-stop 24-hour Social Service Help Line

Three providers will operate pilot programs for 2-1-1 initiative connecting Illinoisans to critical services

The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) today announced plans to launch three pilot sites to operate a 24-hour, one-stop 211 telephone number that will connect citizens to a variety of social services. The state is contracting with three organizations to conduct a limited pilot program. Services are expected to begin immediately.

"The greatest benefit of the new 211 one-stop help line will be that callers can be connected to any number of services and programs across various state agencies," said IDHS Secretary Carol Adams, Ph.D. "I'm excited to get this program rolling so that we can better serve the people of Illinois."

The organizations selected for the pilots include United Way of Greater St. Louis, Personal Assistance Telephone Help, Inc. in Bloomington/Normal and United Way of the Quad Cities Area, Inc.

The 211 service will streamline access to service delivery networks for Illinoisans throughout the state. When an individual needs information or referral services for which they have little or no prior knowledge or experience, dialing 211 is a simple option. Once the individual dials 211, they will be connected to a call center where they will speak to a professional information and referral specialist who will refer or connect the caller to the correct agency based on the services needed.

"211 will help provide Illinoisans access to important services from several state agencies with just one phone call," said State Senator Susan Garrett (D) Highwood, sponsor of the 211 legislation. "We look forward to seeing how the pilot sites work so we can then provide the 211 helpline throughout Illinois."

In July of 2000, the Federal Communications Commission reserved the 211 dialing code for "community information and referral services". As 911 was set up as the phone number to call in case of emergencies, 211 provides individuals with community programs, government agencies, health organizations and other services to help them address their specific needs.

Illinois is seeking to join some 20 other states in developing a statewide 211 system. 211 services will be offered in the geographic areas of the organizations chosen for the pilots. Statewide 211 services will begin after a review of the performance of the pilot sites.

The 211 project is overseen by a collaborative board comprised 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.

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