As part of a larger Illinois-wide initiative, a 2-1-1 phone and internet network will be set up in DeKalb County, giving callers a central source to go to if they need help from a social service agency. The local Kishwaukee United Way is taking the lead on putting the system into place, and is looking for other service agencies wishing to take part.
2-1-1 is an easy-to-remember, non-emergency telephone number that connects people with essential community information and services. 2-1-1 saves time and frustration through specialists who match callers to the right agency based on each caller’s need. The 24-hour line makes it easy for the public to navigate the maze of human service providers and help lines. All calls are free, anonymous and confidential.
Callers can get live assistance with needs such as:
- Food and shelter
- Counseling and mental health services
- Income and employment support
- Help for the elderly and people with disabilities
- Resources for children and families
Dawn Littlefield from the Kishwaukee United Way says the need for coordinated information referrals became clear in the aftermath of the Fairdale tornado; a number of groups have already indicated they want and need to participate in the formation of such a service, in an effort to reach those in need.
2-1-1 would work much like a 9-1-1 system; callers would get an operator, who would then give them information and direction on whom to contact to deal with their particular situation.
The United Way will be holding a meeting on December 7th at 11 a.m. at the DeKalb County Farm Bureau in Sycamore; local health and human service agencies are invited to attend and find out how they can participate. Funding is coming from grants provided by the DeKalb County Community Foundation, Kishwaukee Hospital, First Midwest Bank and DeKalb Township. Organizers hope to have 2-1-1 up and running by next spring.
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