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2-1-1 phone service debuts Monday

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Shelly Birkelo
Wednesday, July 18, 2012

— Starting Monday, people calling the United Way's First Call information and referral service will be directed to Mercy Health System's Call Center.

"It's an interim solution to the final move to 2-1-1," said Steve Kinkade, president of Stateline United Way.

Kinkade will become president of the new United Way Blackhawk Region after the Stateline United Way and United Way of North Rock County consolidation becomes official July 26.

Beginning Monday, July 23, United Way's First Call Resource and Referral will be integrated into the 2-1-1 Wisconsin system that provides a single access point to a range of local social, health, and government services, Kinkade said.

"It will be much more comprehensive and will have a greater array of resources that will serve a multi-county area," he said.

The call center for this area is in Dane County, but it covers a population in excess of 700,000 citizens, Kinkade said.

"So the caller is going to get more comprehensive and extensive services opportunities by calling (2-1-1)," he said.

Calls to 2-1-1 are confidential and free. Services are multilingual and the call center is staffed seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

First Call walk-in services will no longer be available at the United Way Community Service building, 205 N. Main St., Janesville.


2-1-1 is the three-digit dialing code designated by the Federal Communications Commission to provide widespread public access to community information and referral services.

In response, there has been a national effort to develop statewide 2-1-1 systems so they become as easily recognized as 911 and 411.

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about 2-1-1 Wisconsin:

-- What is 2-1-1 Wisconsin?

It is a free phone number that connects callers with health and human services in their communities.

-- How does it work?

When you dial 2-1-1, you talk to a trained resource specialist who has access to data of nearly all health and human services that exist in your community. Information and referral is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year-around in 90 different languages.

-- What information is available?

The site contains information about health and human services programs in Wisconsin including assistance for food, housing and shelter, education, legal, emergencies, physical and mental health, financial assistance, transportation and state agency and program information.

-- Who can call 211?

Anyone looking for information and assistance, including case managers, church leaders, employers, teachers or other agencies on behalf of clients, members, employees or students.

Last updated: 4:56 pm Tuesday, August 27, 2013

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