First there was the emergency number 911 to call police in emergencies. Then the number 311 was set aside for non-emergency police calls. Now the number 211 is increasingly being used to provide one source for finding social services. The Denver Post says the Denver area began today to use 211 for information referrals to thousands of metro-area nonprofit organizations.
The goal is to reduce the confusion and frustration people feel when trying to pinpoint the program they need from among numerous service agencies.
In Denver’s system, four specialists at United Way will help 211 callers get questions answered. The United Way database contains information on 1,300 service agencies, which will offer information on more than 4,000 health and human services organizations and programs.
Nationally, the 211 program is fairly new. In 1997, Atlanta became the first city to use the number. Fhe Federal Communications Commission in 2000 reserved the number so people would have one easy way to connect with community health and human service organizations. There now are 23 states using 211.