211 Colorado Statewide Program
The journey for moms with substance use disorder isn’t just tough, it’s big. And that’s why providers, community partners and caregivers need to look at the big picture. What do moms need beyond connecting to treatment? What are the barriers that hold them back from asking for help, getting help, or being successful in achieving their goals? We know that for moms to stay and succeed in recovery, they need connections to resources, support and information for other vitally important components of life.
Recently, Tough as a Mother partnered with United Way and their 211 resource directory to integrate these important resources into our website so that moms can find everything they need for their recovery journey in one place.
Kayla McIlvaine, Coordinator of the 211 Colorado Statewide Program sat down with us for a Q&A about this incredible resource that goes beyond simply helping people get into treatment and helps them with a continuum of services, connections and care to help them thrive.
Q. What’s the 411 on 211?
211 is a multilingual and confidential service that connects individuals to critical resources including food, shelter, rental assistance, childcare, and more. Members of the community can speak to a live resource navigator Monday - Friday, 8am - 5pm by dialing 211, texting their zip code to 898-211, or using the chat function on our website (https://www.211colorado.org/chat/#english, https://www.211colorado.org/chat/#espanol)
Q. Are there additional supports for moms via 211?
We do provide some specialized services and supports through our partnerships! For example, we offer a child care resource and referral line in partnership with Colorado Shines, the Family Health Line in partnership with Maternal Child Health (which provides additional information for parents and families of children including those with special needs), and SNAP application assistance through our partnership with Hunger Free Colorado. We also provide referrals to volunteer income tax assistance sites and information on tax credits in partnership with Get Ahead Colorado, we encourage moms to file to ensure they’re not leaving money on the table! If they’re unsure about filing or don’t know where to file, we encourage them to give us a call.
Q. How did 211 start in Colorado?
The 211 service is available nationally and in Canada. It isn’t a single overhead entity but instead runs out of a network of nonprofit partners. In 2002, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission granted the 211 dial code to a group of nonprofits in Colorado called the 211 Colorado Collaborative. Currently, we have seven nonprofit partners in the collaborative at four contact centers providing border-to-border coverage across Colorado.
Q: Who are the nonprofit partners in Colorado?
Contact centers are run out of Mile High United Way in Denver, Pikes Peak United Way in Colorado Springs, Senior Resource Development Agency in Pueblo, and Hilltop Community Resources in Grand Junction with additional support from United Way of Weld County, United Way of Larimer County and United Way of Southwest Colorado. These partners connect with resource providers and community members in their area and contribute that local knowledge to a statewide database of resources.
Q. How many resources are included in this database?
Our database includes about 7,200 services at approximately 8,000 locations and is available to search through our website. We also share information about resources directly to Tough as a Mother’s website, which is another avenue for moms to access information on community-based resources, learn about 211, and connect with us.
Q. How is information about resources kept current?
At least once a year, we review each service line by line with somebody from the agency offering that service. We also update when information comes in, as we often hear about changes from our partners or someone in the community. We are really focused on verifying information, keeping it as up-to-date as possible, and including some hard-to-find fields like eligibility and intake procedure.
Q. Is 211 always a live conversation?
211 Resource Navigators are available for a live conversation by phone, text, or chat Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5p.m. We are really about that human connection and conversations with 211, whether through chat, text, email, or phone call, are completely confidential.
Anyone who isn’t ready for a live conversation or who is looking for help after hours is welcome to search our website 24/7!
Q. Can you explain what happens on a call?
When people call, they are given a list of options and then connected with a 211 resource navigator who will ask some questions to better understand what it is that they need and what they may be eligible for and put together a list of referrals for them live on the phone. They're always welcome to call back as often as they’d like to get more information or different resources.
Q. Does 211 provide crisis and disaster response?
Being a one-stop resource for various types of disaster response is part of our history. As an example, we have helped connect people to resources during a number of Colorado wildfires and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, we are updating resources for migrants and refugees. We are partnering with the state and with our cities to help refugees get in touch with bilingual navigators who can point them to basic resources as well as resources specifically for folks who are newcomers to the state. In addition to the bilingual staff at all of our centers, we use an interpretation line that allows us to take calls in over 108 languages.
Q. What do you most want providers to know?
First of all, if you’re reading this, please make sure you are in our database! It’s quick and easy – instructions are below. If your service is a good fit for 211, you’ll be registered as a service provider and your information will be added to the 211 Colorado database.
If there are other resources in your area that you think should be part of 211, please spread the word. We are only as powerful as the trusted, impactful resources we make available to moms. If you don't see a resource that exists, or you see a need that's not fulfilled, reach out to us. Sometimes it is a collaborative effort to make sure that all the resources that fill a need are added to that resource database and updated in a way that's consistent.
Anyone can create an account on the newly integrated resource directory on the Tough as a Mother website to curate and save personal lists of resources (for example, the closest food pantries). Resources added to your client's personal lists will automatically be updated if we make any changes, so moms can worry less about curating lists of resources that quickly go out of date. Check out this video on how to create a resource list with your clients.
Providers who would like to request that their information be added to the 211 database can fill out this online form to get started: https://www.211colorado.org/update-database/
Providers who are already listed and would like to edit their information in the database can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or edit their listing online by registering for the 211 Agency Update Portal at https://www.211colorado.org/agency-portal/
A 211 success story:
A pregnant 16-year-old woman was experiencing homelessness in Denver and called 211 after seeing our number on a poster at Denver Human Services. She wasn’t sure what we might be able to do but she reached out because the poster directed her to call for help with WIC (Women, Infants, and Children Program). The 211 Resource Navigator who answered the phone immediately knew she needed more than just WIC assistance. The Navigator asked questions and provided her with resources for a shelter and transitional housing for pregnant women, scheduled a time for our SNAP team to call her back to help her apply for food benefits, provided additional resources for clothing and basic needs for both her and the baby, and explained exactly how WIC could help her. The Navigator then transferred her to the local WIC line and relayed the caller’s need to the WIC agent before completing the transfer.
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