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Clive Jones

MORE ABOUT 2-1-1 ... Not rapid but steady progress even with no direct federal support!

Thanks for expressing an interest in 2-1-1 and doing a pretty good research job ... but there are a few details that can be clarified and updated.

Since the FCC approved the use of the 3 digit 2-1-1 number for community information and referral a mere 10 years ago, the service has expanded to cover 65% of the US population with about 212 active 2-1-1 locations. There remain several key gaps (although California is now fairly well covered) and to be honest, in some areas, a 2-1-1 service is available but may not have the resources to address all the demands within that community.

But considering this has been the result of community-based efforts and with no federal funding, the march of 2-1-1 has been fairly impressive.

AIRS has created national standards for I&R and these have been in operation for over 30 years. The standards cover, in detail, the requirements for being able to provide an effective service to the public on the phone and in person, as well as the separate skill of maintaining community resources data. (To see the Standards, go to www.airs.org).

We also draw upon a common indexing tool called the AIRS/INFO LINE Taxonomy of Human Services that consists of over 8,000 fully-defined human service terms within a hierarchical structure. (See more at www.211taxonomy.org).

Most of these 2-1-1 databases are on the Internet as standalone (sometimes statewide) resource databases listing human services provided by nonprofit agencies, government and occasionally forprofit organizations. It would be a tremendous achievement to one day link these into a single source of searchable mega/meta-data.

The key to good up-to-date data is local maintenance. Within AIRS Standards, all data must be updated on at least an annual basis through direct and documented contact with the organizations providing human services.

And certainly, many I&Rs/2-1-1s have worked with mapping projects at city/county levels to provide insight into community needs, community resources, unmet needs and the location/availability of services. Once 100% geographic coverage, it would be great to work with experts who could use our collective data for advanced analysis.

On a couple of small points - we don't reject philanthropy and actually would prefer diverse national funding (such as most of our 2-1-1 agencies have) rather than be sustained by 100% federal money.

AIRS does have a small staff - I'm one of them!

The goal is to provice access to human services information across the continuum of options -- from online databases for professionals in other agencies to the telephone service for people who need active listening, mediated assessment, individual advocacy and mutual problem-solving. Handling I&R calls is not just giving out names and numbers as most people do not know what to ask for and need help just sorting through their problems.

Again, thanks for your interest in 2-1-1 !

Clive Jones, AIRS

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