The Inside Look of the Life of a 211 Responder-And How They Can Help You.
What if your child is on drugs or is being bullied? What if you are struggling with your utility bills and child care? What if you need support with suicidal thoughts or with an abusive relationship? What if you are a veteran and you and your family need assistance? www.211.org
Where can you turn for help? Go to www.211.org
CAll 211. It is here to help. It’s completely confidential and available 24/7.
Please read Amy’s inside look of the 211 info line.
I have had the opportunity to work with 211 on a personal level and professional level. My first encounter was when my daughter was 6 months old and was having trouble hitting her milestones (bearing weight on legs, standing, crawling, etc.). While at the doctor’s office, I was instructed to call 211 in order to have my daughter evaluated for the Birth to Three program. I was not familiar with the services that 211 provided at that time, but with one phone call that would quickly change. Not only was I connected to Easter Seals to begin the application process for Birth to Three, but I was also opened up to a whole new world. They offered to give me information regarding support groups for families who are dealing with similar issues regarding their child’s development, as well as, playgroups and parent-child activity groups. I could not believe that one phone call could be so informational. The specialist who took my call was so pleasant to talk with. She never made me feel embarrassed or rushed during our conversation. There were times when I asked her to repeat herself so that I could write down the information she was giving me and she was happy to do so. It was a very comfortable interaction, which, at times, can be hard to find when it comes to customer service type calls. In fact, about 2 weeks after making the phone call, the specialist ended up calling me to check on the status of the Birth to Three programs for my daughter. She wanted to make sure I got in touch with Easter Seals and had an evaluation scheduled. I honestly have to say I was extremely impressed with the 211 info line!
My second encounter with 211 started when I began interning as a Drug and Alcohol counselor in an outpatient facility in Danbury. This is a great tool for counselors because we can advise our clients that with just one call, they will have thousands of services at their fingertips. 211 offers connection to services including: utilities/heat, childcare, housing, financial assistance and outpatient mental health care, just to name a few. This number is also an excellent tool to utilize during crisis situations. A trained specialist who can connect the caller to the appropriate placement for services will answer every call. No one will ever be turned away and no problem will ever be ignored as insignificant. 211, actually, has certification from the American Association of Suicidology and accreditation from the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems. The call specialists receive 120 hours of new hire training and engage in frequent refresher courses after that to keep up-to-date on newest program training. The unfortunate thing is that many people are not aware of the services that encompass 211 and those that have heard of it, think that it is only for suicidal type calls. While it does provide excellent crisis intervention, it can also be an outlet to find childcare if you are debating whether to enroll your child in a home daycare vs. a daycare facility. Working in an outpatient facility we get many referrals from 211 for new clients by parents who do not know what else to do with their child who is doing drugs. They are at their wits end trying to find community help and calling 211 was their last resort. The one thing we want all of our clients, as well as, the general population to know is, 211 should be their FIRST call to find help! It is such an amazing organization that needs more recognition of the services they provide to the community.
Recently, I learned that in my community there was an increase in 211 calls over the past year. When I mentioned this to others, I found out that many people never heard of 211. It is my hope, through Amy’s letter, that you have learned how 211 can help you. United Way supports the 211 info line. Please support your local United Way, so it can continue to support you and others. Go to http://www.211.org to learn more about 211.
Do you have a story how 211 helped you that you would like to share? Please comment below.