DATE: April 29, 2003
TO: Board of Supervisors
SUBJECT: 211: Health and Human Services Hotline
The County of San Diego has been a leader in the implementation of successful programs designed to address the health and human service needs of residents. We have a history of developing strong public/private partnerships to assist us in the successful planning and implementation of these programs. Today, we have an opportunity to begin the implementation process of 211, a single, three digit phone number for health and human service needs that is consumer-friendly. Approval of the following recommendations will allow for the County to partner with a variety of agencies to begin the discussion for implementation of a 211 in San Diego.
Chairman Greg Cox:
- Authorize Chairman Greg Cox to serve as the Board of Supervisors’ representative to the 211 Leadership Committee.
- Direct the Chief Administrative Officer to work with the 211 San Diego Leadership Committee and participate in planning discussions for the implementation of 211 in San Diego and return to the Board once a draft implementation plan has been developed for review.
There are no fiscal impacts associated with these recommendations. Any recommendations contained in the draft implementation plan that affect County funding will be brought back to the Board of Supervisors for approval.
On July 21, 2000, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) reserved the abbreviated dialing code, 211, for community information and referral nationwide. At this time, 20 states are operating 55 different 211-referral centers and more than 51 million people can now access 211-referral services in their communities.
In February 2003, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) issued a ruling to allow the establishment of a 211-referral system in California. There is a local San Diego Implementation Coalition that is working diligently to raise the awareness of the 211 concept and begin a local planning and implementation process for San Diego’s 211 services.
The concept is to build upon existing information and referral services in the County and include these agencies in the planning effort. The effort would still utilize existing call centers, professionally trained staff and databases currently in use, but would expand and link referral systems where appropriate. Nationwide, it is estimated that 211 services operation cost $1 per person per year. In San Diego County that would mean a cost of about $3 million. San Diego County currently provides $425,000 annually to Info Line of San Diego (previously under the umbrella of United Way) and the current contract is valid through June 2004, with four option years through December 2007. In cooperation with Info Line San Diego, this is the funding source the Leadership Committee will explore for the basis of the new 211-referral system. Additional funding from the County of San Diego is not contemplated as part of this effort. A funding plan will be developed as part of the strategic planning process in consultation with both current and prospective funding sources.
A 211-referral system in San Diego could serve as a single link to all of the existing health and human services resources. People in crisis would only need to remember one number, 211, to get in the door and referred to the appropriate agencies for services. Rather than duplicating or replacing existing services, 211 provides an infrastructure for linking access and outreach services into a more efficient and coordinated network. A 211 system could also eliminate up to 50 percent of non-urgent calls to 911.
Approval of today’s recommendations will authorize Chairman Greg Cox to serve as the Chair of the 211 Leadership Committee and launch a community planning process this year. Three meetings will be held in May, June and September and the information from these sessions will be the basis for the 211 strategic and operational plan.
Providing the best, most effective service to our residents is crucial. This is a unique opportunity for San Diego County to join the many other counties or states that have found 211 service to be a great benefit to their community and further reinforces this County’s commitment to the “no wrong door” philosophy of service delivery.
I urge your support!