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"211" line gets $25,000 boost

A long-awaited universal “211” phone line that would take pressure off the emergency 911 line and speed access to counselors, day care, health care, and other social services has received a $25,000 grant from the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Advisory Council.

The council hopes to help “jumpstart” the 211 line with an eye to diverting non-emergency calls that now go to 911. The grant goes to Hotline of San Luis Obispo County, expected to operate the 211 line.

“This vital program will relieve 911 dispatchers from answering non-emergency calls and will allow for immediate assistance in directing individuals to the appropriate agency capable of fully meeting their non emergency needs,” said Jay Conner, council chairperson.

The 211 movement is nationwide. In California, every county south of San Luis Obispo has it except Imperial County. Kern County is planning to implement it.

The California Alliance of Information and Referral Systems projects that 80 percent of Californians will have access to 211 by the end of 2007.

According to the United Way, by last November, 211 was serving approximately 192 million Americans. There were 209 active 211 systems covering all or part of 41 states, including 17 states with 100 percent coverage, as well as Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Canada had an additional five locations.

Hotline of San Luis Obispo County has applied to be the county's provider for 211 services, and the Board of Supervisors has passed a resolution strongly endorsing the application to the California Public Utilities Commission.

While preparing for the crossover to 211, Hotline continues to offer free and confidential information, referral, support and crisis intervention to the residents of San Luis Obispo County through their current phone number: 549-8989 or toll free (800) 549-8989.

For more information about Hotline or 2-1-1, please contact Linda McGregor or Karen Fields at 544-6016 or visit www.slohotline.org.

Bob Cuddy

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