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What is 2-1-1?

Every hour of every day, someone in Alameda County searches for services, from substance abuse treatment to care for a child or aging parent. Over 1,100 community agencies provide a myriad of health and human service programs in Alameda County. Finding your way through this maze can seem insurmountable. Where do you start?

2-1-1: Help starts here

2-1-1 is a free, confidential, 3-digit telephone number that provides all Alameda County residents easy access to health, housing and human services information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year, in English, Spanish and 300 other languages. While 2-1-1 serves all, it is an especially valuable resource for vulnerable populations such as single parent families and very low-income households, frail elders, people with disabilities, re-entry population, caregivers, runaway youth, non-English speakers and those who are in need of such vital resources as emergency housing, food, financial assistance, healthcare, childcare and legal assistance. 2-1-1 is also a critical public communications tool during recovery efforts after a disaster.

2-1-1 provides callers with information and referrals to human services-agencies and resources for everyday needs and in times of crisis. We provide information about:

  • Basic Human Needs: food, housing, clothing, shelters, rental and utility assistance.
  • Physical and Mental Health Resources: health insurance information, Medicaid, Medicare, and HealthPac, free and mobile clinics, immunizations, maternal health, Children's Health Insurance Program, medical information lines, crisis intervention services, support groups, counseling, drug and alcohol intervention and rehabilitation.
  • Employment Supports: financial assistance, job training, transportation assistance, education programs.
  • Support for Older Americans and Persons with Disabilities: adult day care, congregate meals, Meals on Wheels, respite care, home health care, transportation, and protective services.
  • Support for Children, Youth and Families: childcare, after school programs, Head Start, family resource centers, summer camps and recreation programs, at-risk youth programs, mentoring, tutoring, teen pregnancy, and foster youth programs.
  • Volunteer Opportunities and Donations.

Dial 2-1-1 for free, 24-hour community, health and social services information. Like 9-1-1 for emergency service, 2-1-1 has been set aside by the Federal Communications Commission for the public to easily access community information. Callers receive personalized information from a live call specialist. Call specialists can also help callers find out where to go to volunteer or donate to their favorite cause.

A community-wide service

Every corner of the community is touched by 2-1-1, from the businessperson who uses 2-1-1 to help an employee find drug treatment, to the family who calls 2-1-1 about financial scams against an elderly grandparent. Military families use 2-1-1 to contact their various service branch's family service hotlines. Law enforcement agencies see scarce resources freed up when inappropriate calls to 9-1-1 decline because the public has another easily-remembered number to call for non-emergency needs.

National three-digit number

Although 2-1-1 was only introduced in 1997, the 2-1-1 number and service already reaches 285 million people in 41 states. Well over 91 percent of the country has access to 2-1-1. (For more information, see In California, 28 counties are currently operating 2-1-1 service. More than half of all Californians have 2-1-1 service available.

Online, by phone, or in print

2-1-1's powerful search engine is available online for people who want to search its service database themselves. Users will also be able to look up services in Eden I & R's published directory, the Big Blue Book. For those who dial 2-1-1 by phone, calls are answered by call specialists who are bilingual and have access to 300 other languages through a professional interpreters service.

For more information, see: What is 2-1-1? (powerpoint presentation)

Or read: 50 Ways 2-1-1 Works (PDF doc)

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