United Way of Pennsylvania and PA 2-1-1 are standing united to recognize February 11th as PA 2-1-1 Day and celebrate a significant milestone. All Pennsylvania residents will be able to contact 2-1-1 for help by the end of 2019.
2-1-1 is the free, confidential, 24-hour information and referral service that currently connects 97 percent of Pennsylvanians with all the health and human services available to help. In 2018, over 202,000 people turned to 2-1-1 in Pennsylvania for help.
“For more than a decade, United Ways, county governments, and other supporters have been building the 2-1-1 service, region by region. The first-ever state investment in PA 2-1-1 in the 2017-2018 budget played an instrumental role in completing the statewide network,” said Kristen Rotz, President of United Way of Pennsylvania.
2-1-1 information and referral specialists are trained to listen, assess the situation, ask the appropriate questions, and then refer the caller directly to the human services that will comprehensively address their needs. The 2-1-1 specialist also explains how to access those services, availing a translation service for over 170 different languages, if needed.
“Statewide coverage is a very necessary step on the path to harnessing the full potential of this public-private partnership, which provides any Pennsylvanian with help when they need it. PA 2-1-1 is committed to everyone having the same quality of service no matter where they contact 2-1-1 or what the need is,” Anne Fogoros, PA 2-1-1 Operations Director, said.
People contact 2-1-1 to find information on basic needs, such as utility assistance or to find the closest food bank. However, 2-1-1 also provides callers with everyday information like where to take their child for developmental screening, or how to locate job training. 2-1-1 is part of coordinated entry systems for housing and homeless services in 36 counties. 2-1-1 has even been activated in critical times to respond to various emergency situations facing Pennsylvanians, such as a damaging flash flood in the fall of 2018 where PA 2-1-1 partnered with PEMA and local VOADs to gather damage assessment information and registered 69 callers into Crisis Cleanup.
“As we celebrate, we keep planning for the future. Health starts where we live, go to school, work and play. The strength of the 2-1-1 and United Way partnership is authentic local connections to resources in communities across our state. We want to make that information available to help Pennsylvanians wherever they come into contact with social services or medical providers,” Rotz concluded.
Pennsylvania became a part of the national 2-1-1 program after it was launched by United Way in Atlanta over 20 years ago. The user-friendly, three-digit 2-1-1 number now serves more than 283 million Americans—more than 90% of our population—in all 50 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico.
United Ways have been long-standing supporters and the national leader of the 2-1-1 movement in Partnership with AIRS (Alliance of Information and Referral System). As the largest private funder of the 2-1-1 network in Pennsylvania, United Ways continue to strengthen and support 2-1-1 as another way to build stronger communities and create opportunities for all.
To reach PA 2-1-1, dial 2-1-1 from your phone or text your zip code to 898-211.