Did you know that information on local health and social services is now accessible by calling 211? Just like calling 911 for an emergency, people can call 211 to identify, navigate, and connect with the local resources they need.
The statewide nonprofit 211info is part of the nationwide 211 phone system. Staff are available to answer calls from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact can also be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, texting your zip code to 898211, visiting 211info.org, or using the mobile app.
The program lists over 35,000 services varying from assistance programs to recreational activities, according to Carrie Prechtel, Community Engagement Coordinator for Jackson and Josephine Counties. Food, energy assistance, shelter, health, and dental assistance are among the top needs in Southern Oregon.
A caller gives the 211info information specialist their zip code and that’s the only information actually required. It is the caller’s choice to proceed with more personal information. After a short discussion of what the caller is looking for, 211info will refer the caller to a number of local agencies that can help and explain about the suggested services.
Staff at 211 also screen callers for qualification for programs. For example, if someone calls in about help with their energy bill, the staff might ask if they have enough food to eat and if they might need assistance with SNAP (food stamps). They will also inform them of any documents or paperwork that would be helpful to bring with them to their appointment. All information is anonymous and confidential, and there are bilingual staff ready to help.
Expanded services in Oregon include a 24/7 hotline for foster parents, giving them help and support with their foster children, and child care referrals, during extended hours including weekends, for anybody looking for any type of child care services.
For more information, go online to 211info.org — or call 211.