2-1-1 statewide system nearing approval | CraigDailyPress.com

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2-1-1 statewide system nearing approval

New three-digit service will provide health and welfare information to Colorado residents

By RYAN SHERIDAN
Daily Press writer
A 2-1-1 telephone system is being created for Colorado and 47 other states, and the new three-digit service will provide health and welfare information to those seeking assistance.
The groundwork is being done now, and the system’s advocates expect the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) will approve their application in January, allowing them to begin organizing the databases and phone systems.
“The 211 resource directory will be an information and reference based system,” said Audrey Danner, executive director of Yampa Valley Partners. “We have a very good base for it here, with over 600 health and welfare-related providers in Moffat County and Routt County.
Danner said the telephone service will provide specific information for those in need.
“Someone could ask a 211 operator to refer them to a specific service, or present them with their dilemma and ask what services are available if someone needed money for rent or groceries, that sort of thing.”
The main organizing bodies for this nationwide database are agencies such as the American Red Cross, United Way of America and the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS).
There is federal approval for this directory, but it’s up to each state to organize their databases, making them uniform and regionally based, and then the directory will be added to the national database.
“Systems like this already exist in some areas, like Denver and Larimer County, but each one is slightly different,” Danner said. “Those systems have to be all the same so they are operating of the same platform of information.
“The directory will be built up from the existing information and resource system,” she said. “The system will be organized regionally, like 911 call centers are. Like the 911 system, wherever you call, the information or services you can get are the same everywhere.”
The 211 directory is scheduled to be implemented on the Front Range as a pilot program in June, with Moffat County to join the system in the second phase beginning June of 2003.
The database work and organization of management and funding is being organized now, and will start in earnest once the PUC application is approved.
“We’re in the process of organizing what’s available, and figuring out what we need to do for funding and hiring someone to manage the process,” said Corrie Scott, Moffat County United Way executive director. “This directory will make everybody’s job a little easier once we educate the public. People will be able to get all sorts of information on what’s available for health and welfare not just United Way-type of services, but information about the hospital, and VNA programs.
“The operator on the other end will have a lot of information, they’ll have a large database to work with.”
Danner said an important part of the work that is being done now for the proposed database over the next year and a half will be hiring someone part-time to oversee the project. They will also be responsible for helping to create the marketing strategy regarding what the system is and what will be available to the public.