The goal of 2-1-1 is to have an accurate and complete database of agencies, organizations and programs in communities across the state.
Dr. James Kimmey, from Missouri Foundation for Health, makes the first official 2-1-1 call at the press conference on Tuesday, Nov. 13.
The new 2-1-1 telephone number is now available to help Missourians find fast, free and confidential help for health and human services. The 2-1-1 call center, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week is being offered throughout Missouri by the United Way of Greater St. Louis. Funding comes from Missouri Foundation for Health and United Way of Greater St. Louis. Ten other United Way organizations throughout the state are involved in the effort.
"Every hour of every day, someone in Missouri needs help locating and connecting with essential community services," said Cheryl Polk, executive vice president and COO of United Way of Greater St. Louis. "By calling 2-1-1, residents of Missouri will be able to find information easier and quicker than ever before."
The 2-1-1 system is now available for nine out of every 10 Missourians serviced by either AT&T, Century Tel or Charter telephone companies. Missourians served by all other telephone companies will be linked into 2-1-1 in spring 2008. At that time, Missouri will become the 21st state to have complete coverage. More information and resources, including a searchable database of services available can be found at www.211missouri.org.
2-1-1 is available today in these metropolitan areas: St. Louis, Cape Girardeau, Springfield, Poplar Bluff, Hannibal, Joplin, Kirksville, Columbia, and Willow Springs areas. In spring 2008, 2-1-1 coverage will be extended to include Jefferson City (Cole County) and all other remaining telephone companies and state residents. Missouri 2-1-1 anticipates serving between 100,000 and 200,000 calls per year once the service has become fully operational.
Left to right: Kay Archer, director of 2-1-1; Cheryl Polk, executive vice president and COO of United Way of Greater St. Louis; Dr. James R. Kimmey, Missouri Foundation for Health president and CEO; and Gary Dollar, United Way president and CEO.
For technical reasons, all 2-1-1 service is currently limited to landline telephone services. Mobile phone users as well as those waiting for 2-1-1 in their area can make the same one-call connection by dialing 1-800-427-4626. Calls through some business phone systems also may need to use this alternative approach.
"We are excited to offer this free service to people throughout Missouri," said Gary Dollar, president and chief executive officer of United Way of Greater St. Louis. "With generous funding from Missouri Foundation for Health and the community partnerships with United Way offices around the state, we can now help even more people â€“ hundreds of thousands more â€“ than we already do. With 2-1-1's proven track record in other states, we know we will be providing high quality, comprehensive information and referral to people when they need help the most."
The United Way has always helped people and 2-1-1 does just that. 2-1-1 is an easy-to-remember number for anyone to call, and it can be used to find information on any health or human service. Often when people don't know where to turn for help, they go without, even though the needed service is readily available in their area. 2-1-1 enables people to find help by making one free, confidential call.
"Our mission is to ensure all Missourians have access to quality health services, which made our support of 2-1-1 an easy decision," said Dr. James R. Kimmey, MFH president and chief executive officer. "2-1-1 is integral in connecting people to needed services in a timely fashion. This is especially important for the uninsured, underinsured and underserved, who often feel disconnected from their community's health and human services network."
The 2-1-1 call specialists can help people find health and human service assistance on everything from food and shelter to job counseling services, health resources, times of crisis as well as everyday needs. 2-1-1 offers easy access to community-based organizations and government agencies that provide services such as:
People also can call 2-1-1 if they want to volunteer support or donate help to agencies.
A total of $8.5 million has been pledged for 2-1-1's first five years of operation. MFH has committed a total of $4.75 million to the project — $1 million for start-up costs and $3.75 million over the next five years to support annual operation costs. United Way of Greater St. Louis is providing an additional $3.75 million over the next five years to support the remaining annual operation costs. The United Way of Greater St. Louis is handling all 2-1-1 administration and operating responsibilities.
Kansas City and its 16 surrounding counties have had a 2-1-1 service through the United Way of Greater Kansas City since March 2006, with call volume and service exceeding expectations. That 2-1-1 service is not affected by or included in today's announcement.
The 2-1-1 Call Center is located at the United Way of Greater St. Louis, with data collection hubs in Cape Girardeau, Columbia, Springfield and St. Louis. Data hubs focus on updating records about health, health-related and social services to ensure that callers are always receiving up-to-date information.
The 10 Missouri United Ways joining United Way of Greater St. Louis in the 2-1-1 program are:Callaway County United Way, Carthage Area United Way, Columbia Area United Way, United Way of Adair County, United Way of Central Missouri, United Way of the Mark Twain Area, United Way of the Ozarks, United Way of Southeast Missouri, United Way of Southwest Missouri and United Way of St. Francois County.