211 is a free, confidential information and referral service for thousands of community and social services available across the province. It is available throughout the province – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – by searching the easy-to-use online database at www.211nb.ca. In the future, the 211 telephone help line will be available so that New Brunswickers can reach a live operator with their questions in both official languages, as well as 100 others.
211 is for people from all walks of life, seeking information about community and social services in their community or throughout the Province, either for themselves or for someone else. For example, it could be used by someone seeking home care support for a senior citizen, a teenager looking for job-seeking skills, a recent immigrant needing language and employment training, or a person with disabilities determining which local or government services are available in their community.
211 has collected detailed information on over 3,200 community and social services and programs delivered throughout the Province by local community groups, non-profit agencies and government departments. The information at 211 is organized by “need” – not by who delivers the service – this makes it much easier to search. Importantly, 211 is dedicated to working everyday to expand the list of services and to ensure it is always accurate.
When a difficult social situation is being faced for the first time, the path to overcoming it might not seem obvious. Finding home care for an aging parent, dealing with a troubled teenager or experiencing an addiction or job loss are just a few examples of the hundreds of possible social situations that aren’t a normal part of life for most people. That’s where 211 comes in. The team at 211 has solutions that are a “click” away to help people navigate the network of services to find the right ones. Even for problems that might seem trivial, like coping with loneliness or adjusting to a new part of life in New Brunswick, 211 is here to help.
211 service has many benefits:
• Web visitors can easily and quickly connect to information about the services they need, anywhere in the province, regardless of where they are located.
• 211 is easy to remember, reducing confusion, frustration and delay that can come from trying to search for services.
• 211’s telephone helpline, once established, will reduce congestion on 911 lines.
• 211 helps identify service gaps, duplication, and emerging trends to help policy decision makers direct the right resources and services to where they are most needed.
211 – Community and social services
311 – Available for Municipality Government information & services
511 – Provincial road conditions in New Brunswick
811 – Non-emergency health information and advice
There are hundreds of not for profit organizations in New Brunswick, in addition to scores of government agencies. When individuals go without help because they are unaware of services available to them, our communities waste valuable resources and people fail to get the support they need. With 211, communities can address the diverse needs of their residents and ensure increased coordination among services, identify gaps and overlaps in services by geographic mapping, and track human service usage. By providing a centralized point of information, 211 will help ensure the most efficient use of community resources.
One of the significant value-added elements of 211 is its online database that, for the first time, provides easy-to-access and easy-to-search information on every social service and program in the province. With this new and very powerful tool at their fingertips, New Brunswick’s many service providers will be able to quickly direct people to services that are outside of their organization’s scope or area of expertise. It will also allow them to discover and connect with other service providers whose goals and mandates complement their own, building stronger community networks.
Telephone books are helpful but they don’t tell the full story. Many organizations provide multiple services and providers are not listed by each service, nor are the services always reflected in the organization’s name. 211 maintains an extensive database of services that includes information on how to access the service.
Importantly, once the telephone helpline is established, 211 specialists can assist callers in ways that a directory of services cannot, by fully understanding their needs and helping them find the appropriate services.
A province-wide 211 service will ensure that all people – regardless of where they live – will have equal access to information. For example, this would allow a resident in Fredericton to easily identify home support options for their father in Bathurst, or assist an immigrant in finding services once they move from Saint John to Sackville.
Both costs and benefits are optimized with a province-wide approach. Furthermore, the overall goal is to eventually have 211 services across Canada. By having a province-wide service, it is much easier to plug into a national network, providing rapid and effective service for all Canadians.
To kick-start the 211 initiative in New Brunswick, GWL has partnered with United Way to support the development of the 211 ready database and deployment of 211nb.ca. BellAliant has also contributed its expertise to develop the Business Case for the full service 211 operation.
Over 60 per cent of Canadians, (20,000,000 people) now have access to 211 services. Centers are located throughout Ontario and British Columbia, Edmonton, Calgary, Nova Scotia and Quebec City. In the United States, 211 serves over 80 per cent of the population, with 244 active systems in 48 states.
Comprehensive research on the costs and benefits of 211 systems has been conducted in both the US and Canada. United Ways in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, British Columbia and Ontario have worked with a number of organizations, including Deloitte, to develop specific business cases and identify the potential of a 211 service. These studies, including one in Nova Scotia, confirm the strength of the 211 business case and the inherent value of the service.
Each of the studies concluded that the measurable benefits of a national 211 system outweigh the costs by a significant margin. Everyone – the public, governments, and service providers – stand to realize substantial benefits from the time and cost savings that 211 can provide.
All contact to 211, whether by email, online query or phone, is confidential. Information and Referral Specialists do not collect identifying information such as name or address. Although an electronic record is made of each call taken, it is just for statistical purposes and non-identifying. The Information and Referral Specialist will ask for the community in which the caller lives, in order that an appropriate referral can be made.
To be truly accessible, people need to be able to get information at all times of the day, whenever they may need it most. While they may not always be able to link with the services themselves at that hour, they can get the necessary information about the services, its location, contact information and hours to provide solutions and peace of mind. Alternatively, there are also certain community services that are available 24 hours a day that may be applicable to the caller’s need and 211 would assist them in sourcing those promptly.
Given the rural nature of much of New Brunswick, locating services so that they are accessible to everyone is often a challenge. If 211 does not have information on a service within a caller’s community, the comprehensive database will help find those services closest to where they live.
Also, 211 collects important information on needs that are not being met either because services are not available or because the demands are greater than can be met by existing services. 211 provides this vital information to planners who are then are able to use it to better understand where the needs are and how service delivery can be improved to meet those needs.
To learn more about 211 in New Brunswick, visit the website www.nb.211.ca, call (506-634-1673) or email email@example.com