Frequently Asked Questions
What is 2-1-1?
2-1-1 is a toll-free three digit telephone number that has been set aside for the public for health and human service referrals, to find out where they can go to give help or volunteer, and to get disaster assistance information. Using a robust information system, it is a centralized clearinghouse for community services.
How do I use 2-1-1?
If you need to know where to go for help but don’t know who to call, start with 2-1-1. Tell the Call Specialist what type of service you are looking for. You will be given referrals (names and phone numbers) of organizations that provide the type of service you are seeking.
Can I call 2-1-1 any time?
2-1-1 calls are answered 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
How much does it cost to call 2-1-1?
There is no fee for calling 2-1-1 beyond your usual calling plan.
What if someone calls that is in crisis?
Call Specialists are trained to assess crisis calls for “warm” transfer to the appropriate crisis line or the local 9-1-1. The Call Specialist will remain on the line with the caller until they are connected to the critical help they need.
What can I expect when I call 2-1-1?
Callers will be greeted with a recording that gives them a choice of English or Spanish. Then a live Call Specialist gets on the line and asks how they can help. To find the best service match, the caller will be asked a few questions about the type of service, their location (by zip code to help find the nearest service), and some demographic information such as age and ethnicity. Callers will be given the names and numbers of up to three organizations that seem to best fit their needs.
How is 2-1-1 used in times of disaster?
The 2-1-1 service is an efficient way to provide two-way communication during times of disaster. 2-1-1 is connected with the County Office of Emergency Services and the 9-1-1 call center. The 2-1-1 call center is designed to have up-to-date information needed in disaster response efforts, such as locations of evacuation shelters, road closure information, insurance claim processes, and volunteer needs.
Who answers the 2-1-1 calls?
United Way Monterey County has contracted with a specialized 2-1-1 call center located in Ventura County. Trained Call Specialists have years of experience answering 2-1-1 calls and will be using information collected and updated by United Way Monterey County staff. Call Specialists are trained to Association of Information and Referral Specialists (AIRS) standards for call service protocol.
What if I don’t know English well?
The 2-1-1 service is available in 170 languages at no charge to the calling party. Many of the Call Specialists speak Spanish, and interpretation services are available for other languages.
What if I am hearing impaired?
The 2-1-1 service is TTY/TDD capable for the hearing impaired. The TTY/TDD number to call is 877-211-3233.
Can I use 2-1-1 wherever I go?
2-1-1 is now available to over 81% of the population nationwide. You can access 2-1-1 for local resources in over 250 active 2-1-1 systems covering all or part of all 50 states plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. Within California, 2-1-1 services are organized at the county level and reach over 95% of the state’s population.
What if my phone service doesn’t allow me to use 2-1-1?
The vast majority of phone services in Monterey County will be able to use 2-1-1. In those few situations where 2-1-1 can not be dialed, a caller can dial (888) 877-3211 toll free and reach the same service.
Why does the operator ask me questions about who I am?
In order to understand and address community needs, some basic information (age, gender, ethnicity, etc.) is anonymously collected in a few quick questions. This information is useful to funders and service providers. Callers will also have the opportunity to leave their name and phone number for an optional follow-up customer satisfaction survey.
What if there are no services for my needs?
When there are no services available matching a caller’s request, the Call Specialists may help problem-solve by discussing other solutions. Additionally, 2-1-1 will collect data on the type of services being requested but for which there is no service available. This information will be later analyzed for gaps in community services and presented to appropriate agencies for possible resolution.
Who runs 2-1-1?
In Monterey County, a collaboration of many organizations, including county government, local foundations, First 5, United Way, for profit and nonprofit service agencies, and some key volunteer consultants have worked together to develop 2-1-1. United Way Monterey County has been designated the 2-1-1 Service Provider by the California Public Utilities Commission and has staff dedicated to operating 2-1-1. United Way World has been instrumental in developing 2-1-1 across the U.S. since 1997.
Who pays for 2-1-1?
2-1-1 Monterey County has a broad base of public, nonprofit and private funding. Initial contributors include First 5 Monterey County, the County Health Department, County Department of Social and Employment Services, Monterey Peninsula Foundation, Community Foundation for Monterey County, Language Line Services, Driscoll’s, and United Way Monterey County.
When did 2-1-1 phone service become available in Monterey County?
2-1-1 Monterey County was launched on February 11, 2009.
How much does it cost to run 2-1-1 Monterey County?
The budget is about $275,000 per year, less than a dollar per resident. This is in line with other 2-1-1 services throughout California. The budget has been decreased since launching due to greater operational efficiencies.
Is 2-1-1 information available over the internet?
The 2-1-1 information is available over the internet at our searchable website, www.211mc.org.
What is the annual number of calls expected for the year?
2-1-1 Monterey County is handled over 15,000 calls in 2010 and over 22,000 in 2011.
What are the most frequently requested services?
The most frequently asked for services can vary significantly from county to county. In Monterey County, basic needs (food, shelter, etc.), rental/utility assistance, assistance for seniors, and immigration/naturalization legal services are among the most frequently requested services.
How are agencies selected for addition to the data base?
There is a formal and extensive inclusion/exclusion screening process that has been created during the development of 2-1-1 Monterey. The criteria are posted at www.211mc.org.
How many agencies are in the database?
At present there are nearly 600 agencies in the database with many more individual programs run by these many agencies.
Why is there a multi-colored stripe on the 2-1-1 publicity material?
The diversity band represents the wide variety of people and services brought together through the 2-1-1 system.