PA 2-1-1 Central Region is Live

September 18, 2012

Following several years of planning and preparation, the 2-1-1 human service calling network is now a reality to residents of Central Pennsylvania.

2-1-1 is an easy to remember three-digit telephone number, designed by the Federal Communications Commission, which provides assistance to consumers who are looking for human service providers in their communities. The network 1 is now available in the Central Region of Pennsylvania which includes: Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Centre, Clinton, Columbia, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lycoming, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder, Somerset and Union counties.

“We greatly appreciate and extend our sincere thanks to the hard work and dedication of the many volunteers in the PA 2-1-1 Central Region, the First Community Foundation, and those who contributed with the needed start-up funding to make this 2-1-1 system a reality,” said Scott N. Lowery, Lycoming County United Way executive director.

“For several years we have provided funding to the Linkage Lycoming program which has been serving as an Information and Referral center for residents of Lycoming County seeking human service help. We’re extremely proud that Linkage Lycoming as been an integral part of this expanding 2-1-1 network which now can serve the public with greater efficiency.”

By dialing 2-1-1, residents, from the single parent needing food for her children to the senior trying to locate in-home care, can access the Information and Referral network that brings community members and community resources together via a live Information and Referral (I&R) Specialist who provides contact information specific to the caller’s local community. Community Help Centre, located in State College, is the Regional Call Center. CONTACT Altoona (Blair County), Linkage Lycoming (Lycoming County) and Union-Snyder Community Action Agency (Snyder County) also provide PA 2-1-1 services to this sixteen county region.

The PA 2-1-1 network would like to advise businesses that have internal extensions and do not dial an access digit for an outside line, that 2-1-1 may not work on their phone system unless the phone system is reprogrammed. Reprogramming is usually as easy as getting in touch with the company that made or supports the businesses’ phone system and asking them for instructions to program the phone enabling 2-1-1 calls to be completed.

As a broad partnership of United Way agencies, Information and Referral providers, local government and other philanthropic organizations, PA 2-1-1 plays an important role in effectively coordinating information about services, and provides a single telephone number individuals can call when they are seeking information about assistance.

The long-term goal of the network is to reduce costs to private and governmental human support services by moving those in need into service support prior to the development of full-blown and costly crisis situations.

The result is a regional, technologically advanced system capable of:

  • Sharing data among local providers
  • Rolling calls to other agencies in times of natural disaster
  • Meeting current licensing standards for information and referral providers across the country

Al Jones, executive director of the Centre Foundation, a key funding partner via a matching grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, lauded the hard work that has gone into securing and creating the data platform that will assure people are connected to services. “Moving people into programs that support their needs will reduce costs by preventing problems from growing into crisis.”

The PA 2-1-1 system is built around seven interconnected regional service systems utilizing established guidelines to ensure consistent, high quality service for everyone in Pennsylvania. The result is a service that is available by telephone and on-line database, 24 hours daily, every day of the year. As the PA 2-1-1 system expands throughout the Commonwealth it will have the capacity to partner with 9-1-1 in times of natural or manmade disaster so that 9-1-1 can dedicate itself to First Responders, leaving 2-1-1 to provide answers to urgent, but not emergency calls.

Information about PA 2-1-1 Central region is available at www.pa211central.org. Information about 2-1-1 nationally is available at www.211us.org.

For information regarding PA 2-1-1 Central Region service, contact Bonnie Tatterson, PA 2-1-1 Central Region LLC at 814-237-1542.

For information regarding the PA 2-1-1 Central Region support and sustainability network, contact Adrienne Wertz, Director of Funds Distribution & Community Building, Lycoming County United Way, 570-323-9448, or Al Jones, Executive Director, Centre Foundation, 814-237-6229.

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