Everyone learns 9-1-1, but next in line should be 2-1-1! The 24/7 number links people with health and human services they need, but may not be able to locate with a phone book or without knowledge of the program or service.

Tuesday, February 11 is 2-1-1 Awareness Day to educate the community on this important resource.

A press release from the United Way of West Alabama reads:

Clients who call 2-1-1 in the United Way of West Alabama’s nine-county area will be connected to a specialist for that region that can assess the person’s needs and provide them with the contact information to the appropriate organization or service. The specialist uses a statewide comprehensive database, so, for instance, can help a caller from Tuscaloosa trying to find elderly care for their parent in Mobile. Below are samples of services a 2-1-1 specialist can help:

Basic human needs resource: food banks, clothing closets, shelters, rent assistance, utility assistance

Physical and Mental Health Resources: health insurance programs, Medicaid and Medicare, maternal health, Children’s Health Insurance Program, crisis intervention services, support groups, counseling, drug and alcohol intervention and rehabilitation

Employment Supports: financial assistance, job training, transportation assistance and education programs Support for Older Americans and Persons with Disabilities: adult daycare, Meals on Wheels, home health care and transportation

Support for Children, Youth and Families: Childcare, after school programs, Head Start, family resource centers, summer camps, and recreation programs, mentoring and tutoring.

Due to the season, 2-1-1 is currently receiving a high call volume from clients who need assistance with heating bills or who may have overspent during the holidays and are falling behind on other payments. Tax season is also underway and we are able to refer callers to an agency offering free tax preparation.

The 2-1-1 call center in Tuscaloosa covers Bibb, Fayette, Greene, Hale, Lamar, Marengo, Pickens, Sumter, and Tuscaloosa counties. There are almost 700,000 non-profit organizations in the United States plus scores of government agencies. People looking for assistance often have trouble navigating a complicated web of health and human service programs. Residents can call 2-1-1 on any AT&T, Sprint or Verizon cell phone, land line phone or by dialing 205-345-7775. Phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls are completely confidential.