Broad Bipartisan Congressional Support Illustrates Importance of the Legislation
Alexandria, VA - United Way Worldwide has issued a call to action for people to help advocate for passage of the Calling for 2-1-1 Act. The bill, which would provide financial support to maintain and improve 2-1-1 - an easy to remember number that connects people who want to give and get help - has achieved impressive totals of 242 co-sponsors (or 56%) in the House of Representatives and 60 co-sponsors (or 60%) in the Senate.
Calling 2-1-1 connects people with live information and referral specialists who can help callers navigate complex systems of human services. In 2009, 2-1-1 provided critical connections for more than 16 million callers, including millions of individuals and families struggling through the economic downturn, or dealing with the aftermath of natural disasters. 2-1-1 examples include access to information about job training, educational resources, housing, food assistance, senior services and caregiver resources.
"In 2009, call centers across the country experienced a double-digit increase in call volume and many calls came from people who had never had to ask for help before and didn't know where to turn," stated Linda Daily national director of 2-1-1 and disaster services at United Way Worldwide. "Already in 2010, we're seeing a spike in call volume, including a 300% increase in the Gulf Coast as the oil spill nears the shore."
Available to about 80% of the U.S. population, 2-1-1 services now rely on unstable funding streams and are subject to limitations based on the lack of a nationwide system. The Calling for 2-1-1 Act would provide $700 million over six years for states to implement and strengthen the 2-1-1 system, making it available for everyone in the country.
"2-1-1 is one of the country's most universal N-1-1 services, like 9-1-1, but it's the only one that relies so heavily on private donations," said Steve Taylor, vice president of public policy at United Way Worldwide. "Ensuring the continuation and sustainability of 2-1-1 cannot happen without a partnership that involves federal, state and local government, the business and non-profit sectors, and individuals and communities. Every single voice and every email sent to Congress will help to ensure that this valuable service remains stable and uninterrupted across nation."
United Way stresses that Supporters can visit liveunited.org/211 and follow the quick, easy steps for generating email to their Congress Members to urge them to bring the bill up for vote before the August recess.