Media contact: Katie Connell at 404.895.5513 (m) or firstname.lastname@example.org
United Way of Greater Cleveland is proud to be part of a coalition of Ohio 211 representatives from across the state who will meet with lawmakers at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus on Wednesday, March 22. The day will focus on advocating for $2 million in annual state funding to support 211 help centers run by 14 organizations, including five Ohio United Ways.
By dialing 2-1-1, Ohio residents quickly connect with community resource specialists who match the callers’ needs with thousands of available local resources, including housing and food, physical and mental health services, employment support, child care and much more. 211 is free, confidential and available to answer the call for help 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
STATE OPERATING BUDGET REQUEST
State of Ohio funding would allow the Ohio 211 network to address workforce shortages, make the social services ecosystem more efficient, defray increased operating costs and facilitate more complex care coordination. A substantial state investment in 211 will allow providers to continue to secure the infrastructure that offers this critical service to Ohio residents.
Ohio is one of only three states nationally which do not have full state coverage of 211. The request for a public-private partnership for 211 in Ohio is a match for current cumulative United Way investments to fund the program across the state.
“United Way of Greater Cleveland’s 211 is one of 14 Ohio 211 centers, which operates 24/7/365 to save lives while also saving state funds in the communities we serve,” said Sharon Sobol Jordan, United Way of Greater Cleveland’s president and chief executive officer. “211 also plays as essential role in Ohio’s emergency response efforts, including throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and most recently, during the train derailments in Ohio.”
Jordan added, “As Ohio 211s continue to be called upon to do more, we must secure the necessary public-private funding that enables us to do so and, we look forward to partnering with the State of Ohio to approve our annual funding request which will ensure Ohio 211s can serve Ohioans who need support and resources well into the future.”
In 2022 alone, 211 programs across Ohio served more than 810,000 callers and responded to an additional 52,000 texts, chats and emails with multiple and intersecting needs.
The top three needs from Ohio 211 callers in 2022 were:
The 211 State Operating Budget Request has garnered bipartisan support among legislative sponsors in the Ohio House of Representatives and Ohio Senate.
“211 provides an essential, immediate and necessary service to the constituents in my district and helps them get the employment, health, mental health, food, housing and utility services they need. I firmly support directing state funds to the Ohio 211 network,” said State Rep. Tom Patton (R-Strongsville).
“211 centers provide valuable resources and assistance for our communities, especially when it comes to housing, health care and employment. Providing critical resources like these is a bipartisan issue that impacts people all across our state. As the ranking member on the House Finance Committee, I am laser-focused on delivering a bipartisan budget that improves the lives of Ohioans. The work of these 211 centers is crucial to achieving that goal and supporting the people of Ohio,” said State Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland).
Ohio Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) also understands 211’s critical value to Ohioans, saying, “As the Senate begins its work on the budget, I will advocate for the funding of Ohio 211 and the critical service it provides. 211 connects Ohioans with essential services before, during and after emergencies. It can be the lifeline to survival for our families in need.”
IMPACT OF 211
In Ohio, the importance of statewide 211 access corresponds to an increased need for health, substance use, employment, and social services support. Ohio’s unemployment rate is 4 percent, 15th highest in the country (as of summer 2022); the poverty rate is 12.6 percent, 17th highest in the country; and Ohio has 47.2 per 100,000 drug overdose deaths, the fourth highest in the country. Community members need ongoing access to vital health and social services to address these issues. The 211 number is easy to remember and always available.
All 14 help centers providing 211 services in Ohio are members of the Ohio Alliance of Information and Referral Services (AIRS). United Ways operate five 211 centers; libraries and other nonprofit organizations run the others.
“211 Advocacy Day” will take place at the Ohio Statehouse at 1 Capitol Square, Columbus, OH 43215. Executives from the United Ways across the state, Ohio AIRS and 211 centers will meet with lawmakers throughout the day. Media members across Greater Cleveland who are interested in scheduling interviews with Ohio AIRS and United Way executives and staff should contact on-site PR contacts, Katie Connell, Unted Way of Greater Cleveland, 404.895.5513 or Ryan Bunch, United Way of Greater Toledo, 419.279.0680. Photos and broll will also be available on Wednesday, March 22.
About United Way of Greater Cleveland: Founded in 1900, United Way of Greater Cleveland is a local, independent nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting poverty across the Greater Cleveland area. The largest private-sector investor of health and human services, United Way invests in efforts that address poverty using a two-pronged approach. The first prong focuses on the daily issues affecting those living in poverty, the Community Hub for Basic Needs. The second drives research and innovation through the Impact Institute, a think tank with an action plan, focused on identifying long-term solutions to break the cycle of poverty. For more information, visit unitedwaycleveland.org and twitter.com/UnitedWayCLE.