Me: “Great. Make sure they also know to also call 2-1-1, the information and referral experts.”
Leader: “What? Who is that? Why have I never heard of that?”
Me: “I don’t know, but we need to get the word out.”
Daily at Together Center people walk in with requests for help and information. My adult daughter is schizophrenic and homeless, they may say. Or, I don’t understand the new insurance rules. It may be: I am about to lose my apartment. Or, my mother is disabled and needs help at home.
Because we operate a campus of, now, 20 health, housing and human services agencies, we often have an expert on our campus who can provide appropriate information or services. We often know of other area resources, as well. However, we never let people leave without the appropriate number for the countywide experts in information and referral.
Washington Information Network 211 launched in King County in 2006, and human services staff know it well. But strikingly, as my conversation sample above shows, community members at large do not.
From 8 am to 6 pm daily you can call with questions about any type of health or human service need. Like the more familiar 911 emergency number, you dial only three numbers to connect with referral experts. In addition to program information, they know how to gather the right information from you, and they utilize databases with detailed information on transportation, financial criteria, geography and more.
There’s also an online database at www.211.org.
If you have a question, by all means feel free to call Together Center. However, it’s not the first call we recommend for those looking for help. Because one of our goals is to make it easier for people to find the services they need, we’d like to introduce you to the experts.
If you are gathering information on available services, make your first call to 211.