Status of 211 Legislation
United Way Worlwide (UWW) has worked closely Representative Burr (R-NC-5), Representative Eshoo (D-CA-14), Senator Dole (R-NC) and Senator Clinton (D-NY) to draft bipartisan legislation that would authorize a dedicated federal funding source to support 211 development nationwide. The bills will be introduced in mid-September.To get an updated list of cosponsors of the Calling for 211 Act of 2009 or to get the full text of the bill, you can visit http://thomas.loc.gov and look the bill up by name or bill number (S. 211 in the Senate and H.R. 211 in the House). If you scroll to the middle of the page, you can also look up bills from previous Congresses.
Summary of the Calling for 211 Act
It is projected that a fully realized national 211 system will cost at least $1.00 to $1.50 per capita annually. The proposed legislation would authorize $200 million annually to assist states with implementing and sustaining 211 statewide. States would have to provide a 50 percent match to their grant. The match could come from current funding of 211 in the community, including (but not limited to) United Way and other non-profits, state governments, foundations, and businesses.
Administering the Funds - Federal Level
The funding would be administered by the Department of Commerce, thus having the bill go through the Senate and House Commerce committees. Commerce has jurisdiction over telecommunications, and plays a role in building efficiencies into businesses -- 211 would build efficiencies into the business of community services.
Administering the Funds - Local Level
The state would designate a "lead entity" that would develop a plan for statewide coverage for 211, and would administer grants to call centers to implement the plan. If the state has already designated a lead entity for 211, either through state law or by order of the Public Service Commission, that entity would automatically be the lead entity for 211 in the state. If there is no existing entity for 211, the state would create a collaborative body made up of: a current informal (i.e. not yet recognized by the state) 211 statewide collaborative if one exists, representatives of community based organizations, faith based organizations, not for profit organizations, comprehensive and specialized information and referral providers including current 211 providers, foundations, and private businesses, to the extent practicable.
Use of Funds
The federal funding may be used for a broad range of 211 related services including: planning for, implementing, operating, and maintaining 211; conducting public awareness campaigns for the service; training 211 staff; increasing 211 centers' quality and capacity; technology upgrades; and evaluating the system. To ensure consistency and quality of service, recipients of the grant must abide by National Standards for 211 Centers, as specified in the Standards for Professional Information and Referral Requirements of Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS) Accreditation and Operating 211 Systems.