Calls into Washington 211 continue at a pace that is faster than our pre-COVID days. And while COVID-related calls are down, calls about housing assistance are up. Here’s some news about Washington 211.

Washington 211 Counts Reveals Growth in Housing, Food and Child Care Requests

Our Washington 211 Counts site allows you to view the types of requests we receive and narrow it down to your community level. Statewide, we are receiving fewer calls requesting information or referrals regarding COVID and health care compared to the same time last year, but requests for referrals and information for housing assistance, food, utilities and child care have increased. Between April 1 and June 30 of this year, we received nearly 3,000 more requests for information and referrals for housing and shelter over the same period in 2021–representing an 11 percent increase. While our numbers for utilities and childcare requests are relatively smaller than those for housing, the increases from 2021 to 2022 were 59 percent and 64 percent respectively.

Washington 211 Undergoes Strategic Planning Review

Deloitte, one of the largest national professional services firms, has generously provided its strategic consulting services to help guide Washington 211 through a strategic planning effort that will identify what 211 can do to improve services and make a greater impact on the lives of Washingtonians. This process, which has included a survey of Washington 211 users and partners, will carry on into Fall 2022.

Evaluating Costs to Increase 211 Capacity

In recent years, Washington 211 has developed a series of strategies to boost capacity and service quality, such as establishing a new training and QA processes, developing a new state emergency management plan, and expanding marketing and communications. However, these strategies require funding that is currently not available to the network. To ensure that Washington 211 can continue to rise to challenges such as the state’s COVID response, we are going to need a more robust state investment. Washington 211, along with the support from Deloitte in our strategic planning process, is identifying the financial need to get us there. Meanwhile, looking ahead to the next legislative session, the most recent state revenue forecast projects revenues for the 2023-25 biennium to be up by $632 million over previous projections. However, there is also a risk that a recession could cause revenues to drop.

New National Suicide Hotline “988” Goes Live July 16

On July 16, 2022, the United States will transition to the new 3 digit 988 dialing code for people seeking a trained crisis responder regardless of where you’re located. People can also dial 988 if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support. In Washington, our 211 Regional Contact Center Providers, Frontier Behavioral Health, Volunteers of America Western Washington and Crisis Connections, will be operating the 988 number as an enhancement to their current crisis services. Washington 211 is also engaged in supporting the role out of 988 at the national level by co-chairing the National 988 211 Accelerator Group with New Jersey 211 and other state 211’s across the National 211 network to share resources, best practices, and to advocate for continued Federal support. About half of the 211 Centers in the nation also operate crisis lines.

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