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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: February 8, 2017 03:56 PM
From: Representative Stephen Bloom and Rep. Gene DiGirolamo
To: All House members
Subject: PA 2-1-1 System Partnership Grant (Previously HB 2011)

In the near future we will be reintroducing legislation, HB 211, to enhance the PA 2-1-1 system. This bill would enable the PA 2-1-1 system to continue to provide a constructive means, through public-private partnership, to reduce the direct involvement (and expense) of state resources now utilized to inform people in need of health and human services available through government, and to expand the information offered to include relevant private and non-profit services as well, leading to improved and more efficient/effective referral outcomes for those served.

Thus far, the PA 2-1-1 system has been supported via funds raised by the United Ways across the state and other private funders. United Ways will continue their support of 2-1-1. Additional funds, if available, would be used for the development of a statewide public-private partnership for health and human service information and referral using the three digit dialing code designated by the FCC and the PA PUC.

In addition to connecting people in need to health and human service assistance available through government programs and private and non-profit organizations in their communities, the PA 2-1-1 system connects volunteers and donors with organizations who can leverage these resources to meet the needs of the community. In the future, the PA 2-1-1 system also has the potential to provide assistance to the state and local communities in times of disaster by handling non-emergency calls.

The legislation will provide for the following:
  1. Securing 24/7 coverage throughout the Commonwealth
  2. Expanding access to 2-1-1 and its database through text-to-chat, mobile application and an upgraded PA 2-1-1 website
  3. Disbursing funds to the regional 2-1-1 programs for investment in meeting 2-1-1’s national quality assurance report card metrics, which include speed of answer, maintaining accurate database records, accreditation and follow-up calls
  4. Startup costs to activate 2-1-1 service to the remaining 15 percent of Pennsylvanians in certain regions of PA who do not have access to 2-1-1 currently
PA 2-1-1 is a regionally-structured system currently governed by a volunteer, nonprofit organization. Some grant funding has been secured to help create a statewide operations coordinator who will work with local United Ways and regional 2-1-1 centers to achieve national quality measures and improve the consistency of the 2-1-1 customer experience across the state. Some state funds will also supplement that grant for statewide coordination.

The leaders of 2-1-1 have a plan for long-term sustainability which includes contracting with the Commonwealth to provide information and referral currently maintained through state-operated 1-800 numbers. This streamlining will improve service to Pennsylvanians and also achieve cost-savings for state government. As the statewide network is strengthened, United Way of Pennsylvania and PA 2-1-1 also anticipate raising more funds from the private sector.

Please join us in co-sponsoring this important legislation.

Previous Cosponsors: Boback, Cutler, Longietti, Ward, Grove, Milne, Cohen, Millard, Neuman, M. K. Keller, Everett, Pickett, Petri, Regan, Knowles, Zimmerman, Neilson, Mackenzie, Killion, Sonney, Gingrich, Farry, Ortitay, Sims, Watson, Harkins and Phillips-Hill

Introduced as HB211