FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–
A new statewide report shows challenges within the 211 Texas system could hinder Texans seeking assistance, including state benefits and access to local resources. The United Ways of Texas report also shows state leaders continue to neglect this vital state-owned resource despite the increased demands on 211 call centers following the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic instability. The full report can be found on our website.
In our community, 211 is operated by United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County and is available 24/7/365. 211 call centers use a comprehensive database to connect callers to critical community resources that provide assistance with barriers related to shelter, food insecurity, child care and more.
Key report findings include:
- Call volume was up in San Antonio in 2020 by 70%, increased by nearly 40% statewide in 2020 and continues to remain elevated over pre-pandemic levels.
- State funding for 211 has remained stagnant for nearly 14 years, despite increased operational costs and financial strains experienced by community-based organizations running 211 call centers.
- Many organizations managing 211 call centers are investing their own limited resources—up to 50% of the cost of operations—due to the state’s inadequate funding for call center operations.
- Operational issues within the state’s benefits and eligibility call line (211, Option 2) has led more Texans to contact 211 regional call centers (211, Option 1) for assistance. This has resulted in an increase in call volume and wait times to an already strained information and referral network.
- 211 Texas is behind other states in terms of efficiency, innovation and system integration and needs critical technology and communications enhancements.
211 connects Texans in need to community-based resources 24/7, every day of the year. In addition to providing information and referral services, 211 Texas is the state’s front door to a variety of services–including information and referral services, state benefits and eligibility and disaster support. 211 is also a rich source of data regarding the needs of Texans and the availability of services in communities across the state.
The report comes as the 88th Texas Legislative session nears its halfway point. It aims to increase awareness and understanding of 211 Texas, identify the system’s limitations and highlight opportunities that would enhance 211’s role in improving the well-being of communities across the state.
A number of policy recommendations for state leaders are included in the report, such as increasing investment in the operational capacity of regional 211 call centers, funding and activating technological capabilities that would allow 211 regional call centers to better address local needs, increasing investment in the state’s benefits and eligibility call line.
About United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County
United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County launched its first campaign in 1940 and has grown into the largest private investor in health and human services programs in San Antonio and Bexar County. United Way focuses on preparing children for school and life, helping students graduate and succeed, strengthening the well-being of individuals and families and providing safety net services. United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County also operates the 211 Helpline and Mission United and fosters volunteerism through the Volunteer Center at United Way.
About United Ways of Texas
The mission of the United Ways of Texas (UWT) is to integrate action and resources for the common good. UWT is an association working with local United Ways across the state representing 254 counties. Together we work across our communities to tackle common challenges that affect our local communities but are bigger than any of us — challenges our entire state faces. Along with United Ways across the country, we are part of a global network of more than 1,800 United Ways, servicing communities in 41 countries. For more information, go to www.uwtexas.org.
About 211 Texas
In Texas, 211 is structured as a public-private partnership between the state and community-based organizations. The Federal Communications Commission designates the Texas Public Utilities Commission (PUC) with authority over 211, and in turn the PUC has designated the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) oversight and management responsibilities of 211 as the statewide information and referral system. HHSC contracts with and provides funding to a network of 25 Area Information Centers (AICs) that are operated by organizations such as Council of Governments, Area Agencies on Aging and local United Ways – all of whom are required to meet national accreditation standards. To learn more, visit www.211texas.org.
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