The Status of 211 in Illinois
The State of Illinois passed the Human Services 211 Collaboration Act in 2003. The Act recognizes 211 as a potential tool for collaborating human services into an information and referral network. When the legislation passed it created the Human Services 211 Collaboration Board which has nine members appointed by the Governor (ILGA). The following state agencies are represented on this collaborative board:
1) Office of the Governor
2) Illinois Commerce Commission
3) Department of Children and Family Services
4) Department of Healthcare and Family Services
5) Department of Human Services
6) Department of Public Health
7) Department on Aging
8) Department of Employment Security
9) Department of Human Rights
Furthermore, the Human Services 211 Collaboration Act identifies four important tasks that the Board must complete.
- One task is to implement 211 services within Illinois, which is a non-emergency telephone system that provides information and referrals for human services. The referrals may also be part of a web database.
- The second task is to establish standards for 211 deliveries in Illinois that are consistent with human referral service standards established by the National 211 Collaborative Board and the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems. These standards require suitable technology for delivering 211 calls as well as meeting the terms of the American Disabilities Act.
- The third task is to establish pilot projects within Illinois that will serve as operational examples of how to implement 211 as a human services information and referral number. The Board was given permission to select up to six pilots. In fact, three pilots were selected and endorsed.
- The fourth task is reporting, which is an annual requirement of the Board. The Board is to report to the Department of Human Services, the Governor, and the General Assembly on the use of 211 services in Illinois.
Although a statewide plan for 211 services has not yet been developed, three pilots are expected to begin in 2009. The three pilots are being directed by local United Ways in three different areas within Illinois: 1) Quad Cities (East Moline, Moline, and Rock Island), 2) East St. Louis, and 3) Bloomington. In the Quad Cities and East St. Louis the 211 pilots are expansions of existing systems in Iowa and Missouri, respectively. In Bloomington, a new system is being created. These pilots are scheduled to run up to two years. It is the goal that the pilots will give the Collaborative Board and the State insight on how 211 could potentially operate across Illinois.