ALEXANDRIA, Va., May 22, 2023 – On Thursday, May 18, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) along with Congressman Brian Higgins (D-NY-26) and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-1) introduced the bipartisan and bicameral “Human-services Emergency Logistic Program Act of 2023” (S. 1729/ HR. 3498), also known as the “HELP Act.” The HELP Act, which United Way Worldwide has publicly endorsed, will facilitate increased nationwide accessibility and coordination of 211 services and 988 services in order to provide information and referrals throughout the United States for mental health emergencies, homelessness, and other social and human services needs. At a time when it is as important as ever for our country to come together to support those in greatest need, United Way Worldwide applauds Senators Casey and Moran and Representatives Higgins and Fitzpatrick for their bipartisan leadership in this critical effort.
211, supported by United Way Worldwide and local United Ways across the country, is a 24/7 helpline phone number and digital network with operators working on the front lines in local communities across the United States. 211 is the most comprehensive source of information on local, state, federal, and community-based resources and services in the country. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) designated 211 as the 3-digit number for information and referrals to social services and other assistance in 2000. The 211 service is provided by more than 200 local organizations that are committed to serving their communities. Available across the United States, callers can contact 211 for critical services, including finding housing, utilities, healthcare, employment, childcare, and financial assistance, as well as evacuation routes, shelters, access to food, water, and emergency supplies during and after natural disasters. Longer term, 211 helps communities recover and rebuild, connecting people that are in need with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) programs, mental health organizations, and other vital agencies.
In 2022, the 211 network:
- Answered more than 18 million phone calls
- Responded to 2.4 million texts, web chats and emails
- Made more than 19 million total referrals to help
- Was designated officially by governors and health departments in 32 states as the primary COVID-19 resource line for residents
"211 plays a key role in connecting families and community members with critical health and human services nationwide," said Angela F. Williams, United Way Worldwide President and CEO. "United Way Worldwide is proud to support the 211 network and appreciates the leadership of Senators Casey and Moran as well as Representatives Higgins and Fitzpatrick. We urge Congress to pass the bipartisan HELP Act to increase the capacity, reach, and impact of both 211 and 988 as essential community resources," she added.
As the HELP Act moves through Congress, United Way Worldwide looks forward to working with Senator Casey, Senator Moran, Congressman Higgins, and Congressman Fitzpatrick as well as elected officials on both sides of the aisle to support this important piece of legislation that will greatly strengthen both the 211 and 988 networks and their ability to connect people with vital health and human services.
Vice President, Communications
United Way Worldwide