DES MOINES, IOWA (April 28, 2020) — Iowa 211 announced today that it has just reached the milestone of 35,000 calls from Iowans since the pandemic began. Iowa 211 began fielding calls using information provided by The Iowa Department of Public Health on March 8. Since beginning that partnership, nearly 20,000 Iowans from all 99 counties have contacted 211 via telephone, text, or the 211 app to ask questions specifically related to COVID-19. An additional 15,000 calls have been received with more-typical 211 requests related to employment, housing, food, transportation, utility-assistance, and other human-service needs.
“Iowa 211 is pleased to serve as a trusted source of information for Iowans. We appreciate the Iowa Department of Public Health’s confidence in the capabilities of our statewide service,” said Melissa McCoy, 211 Director. “We have experienced a 300% increase in call volume since March 8. Our four call centers collaborated closely to rapidly scale up the necessary staff and technology to meet the needs of Iowans.”
Quad Citizens have had access to 211 and its resource and referral services for more than 10 years. Currently, Scott County residents account for 882 of the COVID-19-related calls that came in to the call center in March and April. Overall, in March, 211 experienced a 24% increase in call-volume from Scott and Rock Island county residents.
211 connects Iowans and Quad Citizens to basic needs resources such as food, shelter, health-care, transportation, and childcare. It is also often a first point of contact for Iowans who have immediate needs during disasters. In this pandemic, the service experienced an initial surge of calls who were just learning about COVID-19 and seeking better understanding. Calls have evolved to more-traditional human-service requests as economic impacts from the crisis have been felt all across the state. More individuals are now calling 211 to seek to connections to unemployment benefits, food-distribution, rent, and utility-assistance as well as looking for help related to mental-health needs.
On Thursday, April 24, Iowa 211 announced receipt of a gift of $25,000 from The Iowa Credit Union Foundation to provide support for capacity building within the system. Jaimie Miller, Executive Director of the Foundation, said, “On behalf of the Iowa credit-union movement, we are grateful for organizations like Iowa 211 that have been on the frontline during these uncertain times. Through the Foundation’s new Emergency Relief Fund, we are proud to support statewide efforts like this that are meeting the critical need of Iowans.”
Iowa 211 will continue to serve Iowans and Quad Citizens throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Callers can reach 211 by dialing 2-1-1, texting their ZIP code to 898211, visiting 211iowa.org, or downloading the 211 Iowa app.
About Iowa 211
211 is a free, comprehensive information and referral system linking Iowa residents to health and human-service programs, community services, disaster services, and governmental programs. 211 is a one-stop source of information for people looking for services. Utilizing a comprehensive computerized database of more than 13,000 nonprofit and public programs and services, trained Information and Referral Specialists give personalized attention to each caller. Specialists can refer callers to a variety of services that best meet their needs. 211 is the number to call when you aren’t sure who to call.
Assistance is available in multiple languages, and services are accessible to people with disabilities. Languages can be assisted with the use of a TeleLanguage translation service that can translate 150+ languages.
Iowa 211 call centers are operated by The United Way of Central Iowa, United Way of the Midlands, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, and Gundersen Health System.