Go In-Depth on Our Legislative Priorities: Modernize the 211 Referral Helpline
211 is an important community resource that can be particularly useful for our low-income neighbors. However, the service has been underfunded for years. During the 88th Texas Legislature, we’re supporting a bill that would invest funds to modernize and update 211 to meet North Texans’ current needs.
Background on 211
The 211 information and referral helpline is a federally designated dialing code – like 911 or 411 – that refers callers to local health and social service agencies. In Texas, community-based organizations, including local United Ways, operate many of 211’s call centers. 211 Texas is unique in that it is one of the only 211s in the country to be managed, operated, and funded by the state government.
Challenges within the 211 Texas system pose obstacles for Texans seeking assistance and put strains on community organizations managing the network. Funding for 211 Texas has remained relatively level for nearly 14 years despite increased call volume, operational costs, and contract expectations from the Texas Health & Human Services Commission.
These constraints prevent Texas 211 from meeting the standards of other state 211s, including broadening their community-based resource database, improving technology, and utilizing caller data to identify resource gaps.
What’s Happening This Legislative Session
In addition to the proposed increase to 211’s base budget, United Way supports House Bill 2473 (Bucy), which would improve 211 Texas’ services to meet the caliber of other states.
We’ll be watching this legislation throughout the session. Check back here for important updates as this bill advances through the legislative process.