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Guide

Dial 211 for Essential Community Services

In many states, dialing “211” provides individuals and families in need with a shortcut through what may be a bewildering maze of health and human service agencies’ phone numbers. By simply dialing 211, those in need of assistance are referred, and sometimes connected, to appropriate agencies and community organizations.

Background

In July 2000, the Federal Communications Commission reserved the 211 dialing code for community information and referral services. The FCC intended the 211 code as an easy-to-remember and universally recognizable number that would enable a critical connection between individuals and families in need and the appropriate community-based organizations and government agencies. Dialing 211 helps the elderly, the disabled, those who do not speak English, those who are having a personal crisis, those who have limited reading skills, or those who are new to their communities, among others, by providing referrals to, and information about, health and human services organizations and agencies.

2-1-1 reaches approximately 270 million people (90% of the total U.S. population), covering all 50 states (including 41 states with 90%+ coverage), the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Yet millions of Americans still need to be connected. To find out whether 211 services are offered in your area and to obtain more information, visit www.211.org.

Types of Referrals Offered by 211

  • Basic Human Needs Resources – including food and clothing banks, shelters, rent assistance, and utility assistance.
  • Physical and Mental Health Resources – including health insurance programs, Medicaid and Medicare, maternal health resources, health insurance programs for children, medical information lines, crisis intervention services, support groups, counseling, and drug and alcohol intervention and rehabilitation.
  • Work Support – including financial assistance, job training, transportation assistance and education programs.
  • Support for Older Americans and Persons with Disabilities – including adult day care, community meals, respite care, home health care, transportation and homemaker services.
  • Children, Youth and Family Support – including child care, after school programs, educational programs for low-income families, family resource centers, summer camps and recreation programs, mentoring, tutoring and protective services.
  • Emergency Suicide Prevention – referral to suicide prevention help organizations. Callers can also dial the following National Suicide Prevention Hotline numbers operated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services:
    • 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)
    • 1-888-SUICIDE (1-888-784-2433)
    • 1-877-SUICIDA (1-877-784-2432) (Spanish)

Individuals who wish to donate time or money to community help organizations can also do so by dialing 211.

For More Information

For information about other communications issues, visit the FCC’s Consumer website, or contact the FCC’s Consumer Center by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY; faxing 1-866-418-0232; or writing to:

Federal Communications Commission
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20554

Print Out

Dial 211 for Essential Community Services Guide (pdf)

Updated: March 31, 2014
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