2-1-1 Numbers Up 11 Percent

2-1-1 and United Way of Allen County logo

Press release from the United Way of Allen County:

2-1-1 Numbers Up 11 Percent

(February 9, 2010) – The number of calls to Northeast Indiana’s 2-1-1 Center are on the rise. Annual numbers are now available and show that the 2-1-1 Center answered 40,860 calls in 2009, an 11 percent increase over 2008, when 36,595 calls were answered.

United Way established the Northeast Indiana 2-1-1 Call Center in November 2003 (replacing the First Call for Help phone service). In the first full year of 2-1-1 service (2004), the total number of calls was 20,339. So, from 2004 to 2009, call volume has increased more than 100 percent.

“The number of calls continues to increase, primarily because the needs are increasing,” said Jerry Peterson, CEO of United Way of Allen County. “Northeast Indiana has experienced a recession just like the rest of the country, and when jobs are lost there are always more needs. In 2009, 2-1-1 took calls from hundreds of individuals who had never been unemployed or had to seek help from social service agencies.”

2-1-1 is a national dialing code for free access to health and human service information and referral. By dialing the three simple numbers of 2-1-1, most northeast Indiana residents can get free, confidential, and 24-hour information about as many at 2,000 local social services, such as housing, shelter, food, legal aid, clothing, counseling, utility assistance, health care, transportation and more. Phone counselors are trained to help callers identify their needs and determine what agency or program will best meet their needs.

The top five needs reported by callers in 2009 are as follows: 1) financial assistance for help with utility bills and deposits; 2) food; 3) health or medical care; 4) information, such as an agency phone number; and 5) material assistance with items such as furniture and clothing.

“The top five needs are generally the same from year to year and month to month,” said Tiffany Bailey, 2-1-1 Call Center Manager. “However, in 2009 the 2-1-1 Center took 2,344 calls about the H1N1 flu virus and that significantly increased our health-related requests for information.”

United Way of Allen County operates the Northeast Indiana 2-1-1 Call Center, which provides service to the following ten Indiana counties: Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley. Financial support comes from various funding sources, but primarily from United Way or United Fund organizations.

February 11 is the National 2-1-1 Day (2/11/10) and all across the country, supporters are celebrating 2-1-1’s growth. As of November 2009, the national 2-1-1 system served more than 241 million Americans (more than 80 percent of the entire population) covering all or part of 47 states plus Washington DC and Puerto Rico. The remaining states are all in various stages of planning and implementation. More than nine million Canadians also have access to 2-1-1.

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