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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: February 3, 2017 02:50 PM
From: Senator Patrick M. Browne
To: All Senate members
Subject: Enhancement of PA 2-1-1 System
I will be re-introducing legislation to enhance the already established PA 2-1-1 system in the Commonwealth. Last session’s cosponsors of SB 1302 include: COSTA, ALLOWAY, SCHWANK, MENSCH, ARGALL, BAKER, RESCHENTHALER, VOGEL, VULAKOVICH, AUMENT, WARD, FONTANA, HUTCHINSON and HAYWOOD.

Currently, the PA 2-1-1 system is supported by funds raised by the United Ways across the state and other private funders. United Ways will continue their support of 2-1-1 with additional funds, being 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:
  • Secure 24/7 coverage throughout the Commonwealth.
  • Expand access to 2-1-1 and its database through text-to-chat, mobile application and an upgraded PA 2-1-1 website.
  • Disburse 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.
  • Provide 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. A statewide operations coordinator will begin 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.

In addition, PA 2-1-1 will provide a plan for long-term sustainability which includes contracting with the Commonwealth to deliver information and referrals currently maintained through state-operated 1-800 numbers. This streamlining will improve service to Pennsylvanians and also achieve cost-savings for state government.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this important legislation.

Introduced as SB211