There are many social, economic, community and health benefits of a 211 service. Some advantages include:
211 was started in the United States by the United Way in Atlanta in 1997. Since then, 211 services have launched in 47 states. Over 80% of Americans now live in areas served by 211. In Canada, 211 was launched in Toronto in 2002. 211 is now available in 11 municipalities- Toronto, Niagara Region, Simcoe County, Halton, Windsor-Essex, Thunder Bay, Peel, Ottawa, Edmonton, Calgary and Quebec City. About 28% of the population (more than 9 million Canadians) live in areas served by 211.
211 is an easy-to-remember, three-digit telephone number that provides free, confidential, multilingual information and referral to a full range of community, social, and government services. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, Information and Referral Specialists link callers to the services and support they need.
211 is for everyone and anyone who is seeking information about services in the Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley and Squamish-Lillooet Regional Districts.
By simply dialling 2-1-1, callers can easily and quickly connect to the services they need, anywhere in the service area. 2-1-1 is easy to dial and remember, reducing confusion, frustration and delay. 211 frees up 911 operators to deal with true emergency situations. Furthermore, 211 helps communities better use their resources by providing information that can be used to identify service gaps, duplication, and emerging trends. This will help policy makers to direct resources and services to where they are most needed.
211 is for people who don't know who to call for services in their community. While some people may call your organization directly, there are others who are looking for your services but don't know where or how to find that information. 211 will refer those people to you.
The United Way has committed to long term funding of 211.
A call to 211 is a confidential call. Telephones do not have call display, and the Information and Referral Specialists do not ask for any identifying information, beyond what is needed to find appropriate services. Follow up, advocacy and Assisted Referral calls do require the caller's contact information, but that is collected only with the caller's permission, and only for the purposes agreed to. Caller information is handled in strict adherence to both provincial legislation (BC Personal Information Protection Act) and AIRS (Alliance of Information and Referral Systems) standards.