FAIRLESS HILLS >> 2-1-1 is now live in Bucks County.

The free, 24/7 phone number connects callers to local health and human services, including resources to help with food insecurity, financial problems, housing and utility issues, childcare, mental health issues, drug use, employment, transportation problems, disaster relief, legal aid and more.

2-1-1 provides area residents in need with a shortcut through what can be a bewildering maze of health and human service agencies and phone numbers. By dialing 2-1-1, callers can be referred to, and sometime connected to, appropriate agencies and community organizations that can help.

2-1-1 currently covers 93 percent of the U.S. population and 97 percent of Pennsylvania. It is funded and operated by the United Way and receives no local, state or federal funding.

“On average, a person calls six different places before they find the help they need. 2-1-1 offers a new way for Bucks County residents to get help when they don’t know where to start,” said Marissa Christie, President and CEO of United Way of Bucks County. “We’re extremely excited to offer this much-needed service to our fellow Bucks County residents.”

Here is how the system works: Calls to 2-1-1 are routed by the local phone company to a United Way call center. Referral specialists at the call center gather information from the caller, access a database of local resources available from private and public health and human service agencies, match the caller’s need to available resources, and link or refer them directly to an agency or organization that can help.

“As a state representative, I have first-hand knowledge of what people go through when they need help for themselves or loved ones,” said state Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R-Bucks County), Chair of the Pennsylvania House Human Services Committee. “When people call 2-1-1, trained professionals answer the phones 24/7 and can quickly direct callers to the right agency or person who can help. Its implementation in Bucks County is great news for local residents who are facing a crisis.”

2-1-1 is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Examples of Referrals Offered by 2-1-1

Basic Human Needs Resources – including food and clothing banks, shelters, rent assistance, and utility assistance.

Physical and Mental Health Resources – including health insurance programs, Medicaid and Medicare, maternal health resources, health insurance programs for children, medical information lines, crisis intervention services, support groups, counseling, and drug and alcohol intervention and rehabilitation.

Work Support – including financial assistance, job training, transportation assistance and education programs.

Support for Older Adults and Persons with Disabilities – including adult day care, community meals, respite care, home health care, transportation and homemaker services.

Children, Youth and Family Support – including childcare, after-school programs, educational programs for low-income families, family resource centers, summer camps and recreation programs, mentoring, tutoring and protective services.

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