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Bensalem, PA 19020
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Measure to Enhance Statewide 2-1-1 System Passes Committee
5/8/2017
HARRISBURG – On Monday, the House Human Services Committee unanimously approved House Bill 211, which seeks to establish a statewide 2-1-1 System Partnership Grant Program within the Department of Human Services to facilitate dissemination of health and human service information. The bill is being sponsored by Committee Chairman Gene DiGirolamo (R-Bucks) and Rep. Stephen Bloom (R-Cumberland).

House Bill 211 would enable the PA 2-1-1 system to continue to provide a constructive means, through a public-private partnership, to reduce the direct involvement and expense of state resources now used to inform people in need of health and human services available through government. It would also expand the information offered to include relevant private and nonprofit services, which would lead to improved and more efficient referral outcomes.

The 2-1-1 system is a free, confidential, 24-hour information and referral service that connects Pennsylvanians in need with health and human service assistance available through government programs, private and nonprofit organizations in their communities. It also connects volunteers and donors with organizations that can help to meet the needs in their communities.

“The 2-1-1 system has worked quite well in other states, and it makes only sense to bring this type of technology and resource to Pennsylvania,” DiGirolamo said. “So often, people with human services needs may not know exactly where to go for help, and this system is able to better direct people to the right services, without having to go through additional bureaucratic hoops.”

The legislation seeks to do four main things: secure 24/7, statewide coverage; expand access through text-to-chat and a mobile application and upgraded website; disburse funds to the regional programs for investment in meeting the national quality assurance report card metrics; and provide startup costs to activate service to the remaining 15 percent of residents in certain regions who do not have access to the system.

“This system can provide long-term assistance that will actually help our vulnerable citizens solve problems – as opposed to simply providing short-term band-aids – which is a more holistic and effective approach,” Bloom said. “Further, taxpayers save as a result of the system, as it can replace dozens or even hundreds of redundant government hotlines, resulting in significant savings.”

The system is regionally operated and currently governed by volunteer and nonprofit organizations, and it has been supported via funds raised by the United Way and private sources. Grant funding has been secured to help create a statewide operations coordinator who will work with local United Ways and regional 2-1-1 centers to achieve national quality measures and improve the consistency of customer experience across the state. Some state funds will also supplement that grant for statewide coordination.

House Bill 211 has been sent to the House for its consideration.

Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Representative Stephen Bloom, 199th District

Media Contact: Krisinda Corbin, 717.705.2032
Representative Gene DiGirolamo, 18th District
Media Contact: Jennifer Keaton, 717.705.2094

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