GURNEE – The Illinois 211 Board has announced that $1.8 million has been allocated in the state’s fiscal 2023 budget for a statewide 211 program.
211 serves more than 96% of the population in the U.S. but less than 36% of the population of Illinois.
211 is an easy to remember phone number that connects people during moments of need to a wide range of essential health and human services. From food assistance and help paying bills to health care answers and mental health resources, 211 guides people who are struggling but might not know where to turn, regardless of the language they speak, the time of day or where they live. All calls are free, confidential and can be anonymous. The one-stop helpline does more than simply patch people through to agencies. 211′s expert navigators are trained specialists who will listen, identify underlying root causes and guide people to available resources.
The plan is to expand 211 coverage through accredited contact centers to every county across the state so that all Illinoisans have easy access to quality information, resources and assistance.
The funding will allow the Illinois 211 Board to plan and prioritize the launch of 211 in uncovered counties, with full state coverage by 2024. The funding also will provide increased financial stability for existing 211 contact centers to adapt to an evolving 211 and to align with statewide 211 standards.
The Illinois 211 Board also will be able to hire an executive director to lead and manage this effort and technology staff to focus on building a statewide resource database for services in every county, developing unified ways for all contact centers to extract and report data, as well as analyzing needs and gaps in services.
“We are grateful to state Sen. Melinda Bush for her tremendous leadership and to all the legislators who have supported a statewide 211 system,” said Kristi Long, chair of the Illinois 211 Board and president and CEO of United Way of Lake County. “Many more lives will be improved and saved through this expansion. Lake County is proud to help lead the way to bring 211 services to all Illinois communities and serve as a model 211 program.”
“I’m proud that Lake County has a 211 program, but I’m especially thrilled that in this budget we have allocated $1.8 million for a statewide 211 program,” Bush said in a news release. “With this funding, we can provide Illinoisans all across the state with easy access to the resources they need.”