Phone number to provide assistance guide

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Moffat County will soon have a new number designed to provide easy access to extensive information on local health and human services.

The number is 2-1-1 and has been designed to complement the emergency number 911 by addressing non-emergency calls about where to go for health care help in the community.

Audrey Danner, the executive director of the Yampa Valley Partners, is currently in the process of working with the Colorado 2-1-1 Committee in developing a local plan for implementing a 2-1-1 information and referral system in Moffat County.

Danner is working closely with the committee because the Yampa Valley Partners offers similar information through their Community Resource Directory, which is available online.

The number is not yet in place locally, but Danner said she expects both the number and service to be in place by this fall.

Danner said the idea behind the number is that a call to the 2-1-1 call center would provide people with direct personal assistance. After an interview with a referral specialist, the caller would then be given detailed information pertaining to the nature of the call, which would include referrals to the appropriate agencies, programs and services.

The number will operate 24-hours, seven days a week and offer multi-lingual service.

"The number's purpose is to provide help to a wide array of people," Danner said.

"It can help sort out health care providers, child care, shelter, schools, tutoring it's a wide array of services. It gives you a better directory and a place to start. It will help determine needs for a family or a person, and provide that information in a specific manner."

The Mile High United Way and FirstCall, an information and referral service in Larimer County, are leading the Colorado 2-1-1 initiative.

Colorado is one of 45 states implementing the number.

According to information provided by the United Way and FirstCall, regional offices will develop and maintain up-to-date information about the programs and services available within the regions they support. The same information would also be accessible online. Once the number is implemented, the Larimer County region, with help from the Yampa Valley Partners, would support both Moffat and Routt counties. A governing board will also be created to ensure quality and accountability to the public.

Dialing 2-1-1 will be free to the public.

"This will help all of us," Danner said. "It will introduce a different set of services that you may have never needed before, services that you wouldn't use on a regular basis. It will provide various pieces of specialized information about services that, unless you needed them, you wouldn't even know about."

"Health care can be a confusing maze," said Mary Robertson, the co-chair of the 2-1-1 Committee and executive director of FirstCall. "The number will make it easy to access that information and you don't have to look up a number. When you call, you know people on the other end will help you sort through

the information."

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