DARKE COUNTY — Greenville and surrounding communities may soon gain access to a 211 resource information hotline.
Darke, Miami, and 16 other counties throughout Ohio are currently without access to a 211 system, which is designed to connect people with organizations in their community that offer essential human services, including assistance with food, shelter, health care, senior services, infant mortality prevention, and domestic violence.
Many 211 systems are operated by The United Way. In counties without a 211 line, residents may have to make several phone calls before being connected with an organization that can assist them. Like calling 911, however, simply dialing this number connects callers to a specialist who can help them. Only instead of providing access to police, EMTs, and other first responders, 211 operators put them in touch with providers of a wide variety of critical human services.
Ohio State Senator Bill Beagle recently held a meeting in Miami County concerning the implementation of a local 211 resource line. Beagle met with United Way staff members, Miami County commissioners, and the director of the Lima United Way. Allen County is already equipped with a 211 system.
“We discussed bringing this service to Miami and Darke counties,” Beagle said. “As those discussions continue, we are all in agreement that these services will be an invaluable resource for area residents. I’m hopeful that by working together we will get the job done.”
In addition to humanitarian concerns, a 211 system may help various government services to operate more efficiently, as those seeking information about these types of resources currently call a variety of government offices, and even sometimes dial 911, seeking help. One key to implementing a successful 211 system, according to Beagle, will be making sure local residents are aware that it’s available.
“We all know the universal number to call in the event of an emergency,” Beagle said. “But what about a non-emergency number that can help guide you to local resources, and connect you with vital health and human services in times of need?”
Ohio lawmakers recently passed legislation earmarking over $200 million for investment in youth services and services for those with developmental disabilities, as well as mental health and addiction treatment. Along with providing funding for these resources, according to Beagle, it’s also the responsibility of those in Columbus to make sure voters have access to those services.
“As new resources and opportunities are made available, there’s a growing need to improve accessibility to them,” Beagle said. “And 211 is there both literally and figuratively to answer the call.”
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