211 Texas: Strengthening Our State’s Ability to Connect People and Services
As a trusted state resource available 24/7, 211 Texas is a connector for all Texans to critical, community-based services. Whether it’s a sudden medical bill, a natural disaster, a veteran trying to return to civilian life, or a concern about an aging parent—people from all walks of life can find themselves in need of assistance and confronted with a maze of agencies and programs that are challenging to navigate.
211 Counts is your source for local data in real time! For valuable data and a full breakdown on specific met and unmet needs in your service areas by visiting: tx.211counts.org
In Texas, 211 is structured as a public-private partnership between the state and community-based organizations. The Federal Communications Commission designates the Texas Public Utilities Commission (PUC) with authority over 211, and in turn the PUC has designated the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) oversight and management responsibilities of 211 as the statewide information and referral system. HHSC contracts with and provides funding to a network of 25 Area Information Centers (AICs) that are operated by organizations such as Council of Governments, Area Agencies on Aging, and local United Ways – all of whom are required to meet national accreditation standards through AIRS.
- Currently 13 of the state’s 25 2-1-1 call centers are operated by local United Ways.
- The 2-1-1 HelpLine operated by United Way of Greater Houston is the second largest 2-1-1 in the country by call volume, answering more than 1 million calls in 2017, and beat only by New York City.
- Our network of nearly 70 Texas United Ways invest millions of dollars each year into community-based mental health, substance use, health, education, and other financial stability services. 2-1-1 is how individuals in need can connect to those community-based services.
- UW promotes 2-1-1 as a way for Texas legislators to connect their constituents who reach out for requests for assistance. UWT advocates for 211 and encourages legislative staff to use the 2-1-1 system created by the Texas legislator to help connect individuals to constituent services.
- The Texas Legislature established the state's 2-1-1 service in 2001 and it took its first call in 2002. Today, 2-1-1 Texas answers more than 3.5 million calls a year.
- In 2019, thanks to the advocacy of our network, 2-1-1 secured significant upgrades and improvements which will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the system overall.
- 2-1-1 Counts was rolled out in Texas in 2020 because of UWT’s advocacy and allows local and state leaders to better understand and value the role that 211 plays in connecting Texans to resources.
United Ways of Texas urges state leaders to move the following strategies forward—especially given the state’s investment in 211, interest of other partners, including other state agencies, as well as the pressing and ongoing needs across the state due to COVID-19.
- Position 211 so that its existing community resource database can be utilized by all state agencies and partners.
- Strengthen collection of and increase transparent access to statewide 211 caller data.
- Enable Area Information Centers (AICSs) to engage in special projects with partners that leverage the 211 platform, technology, and system.
- Better integrate, leverage, and resource 211 in disaster response and recovery.
- Increase state funding to 211 Texas to keep up with increased call volume and need.