211 Palm Beach/Treasure Coast is a multi-program agency serving residents of Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast. Throughout its history, it has been the agency’s philosophy to seek a broad base of funding and to expand only into areas that are viewed as compatible with the overall mission of the organization.
Formerly known as Crisis Line Information & Referral Services and then as The Center for Information & Crisis Services, the agency was started in Palm Beach County by a noted area psychologist in 1971. Originally a drug hotline, the agency quickly expanded into crisis counseling and suicide prevention. In 1981, the agency was funded by the United Way to provide information and referral services to the residents of Palm Beach County. In 1988, the agency added its Elder Crisis Outreach and Teen Hotline components. In 1989, the agency was designated in the Palm Beach County Comprehensive Plan as the central access point into the county’s human service system. In 1994, the agency also became the county’s Elder Helpline, a contract which was extended until 2009.
In July 2000, the Federal Communications Commission designated the three-digit number 2-1-1 nationally to serve as the abbreviated dialing code for access to community information and referral (I&R) services. The agency was selected to provide 211 services for Palm Beach County residents.
Effective November 1, 2001, the agency expanded its service area to the residents of Martin, St. Lucie and Okeechobee Counties with funding support from the United Way of Martin County, the United Way of St. Lucie County, the Martin County Board of County Commissioners and the Florida Department of Children & Families. In the Spring of 2005, 211’s coverage area further increased to include Indian River County residents with funding support from the United Way of Indian River County. This represents a service area population of over 1,861,000.
In October 2002, the agency initiated the Palm Beach County Homeless HelpLine to support homeless individuals in their efforts to obtain services toward self-sufficiency. Funding for this program ended September 2011.
In July 2010, Palm Beach County contracted with 211 to serve as the Rape Crisis Victim of Crimes Hotline to respond 24 hours per day/7 days per week to victims of rape, domestic violence and crimes.
211 Palm Beach/Treasure Coast became accredited by the American Association for Suicidology in 1996 and most recently in 2010. Further in 2001 the agency was awarded accreditation by the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS), the national accrediting agency for information and referral services. The agency was the first in the State of Florida and the fifth nationally to receive AIRS accreditation. Further, in 2003, the agency received certification by the State of Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration as the 211 service for Palm Beach and the Treasure Coast. The agency was the first in the state to receive this certification, which was a requirement until 2009. In September 2006, 211 Palm Beach/Treasure Coast successfully completed a review by Nonprofits First, receiving Gold Level Certification in the areas of governance, management, fiscal policies and human resources and most recently in 2011 received re-certification.
The free, confidential services provided by 211 Palm Beach/Treasure Coast can be accessed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by calling the easy to remember three-digit dialing code, 2-1-1.
By calling this number, individuals of all ages can receive information, assessment and referrals to community programs, along with crisis intervention and suicide prevention services. These services are funded in part by six United Ways (Palm Beach County, Town of Palm Beach, Martin County, St. Lucie County, Indian River County and Okeechobee County), four county commissions (Indian River, Martin, St. Lucie and Palm Beach) and the Department of Children & Families (Circuits 9 and 15). Teens, youth and their families can receive telephone counseling and case management/client advocacy services, funded in part by four Children’s Services Councils (Martin, St. Lucie, Palm Beach and Okeechobee).
211 is also supported by Quantum Foundation and other local and national foundations.
In 2011-2012, 211 Resource Specialists assisted 141,439 callers and made 158,154 referrals to 5,383 community services.
Every staff member and volunteer at 211 Palm Beach / Treasure Coast must successfully complete a 100+ hour training program; participate in ongoing on-the-job training and attend appropriate in-service training. 211 has established quality standards, conducts internal call monitoring and completes client satisfaction surveys to ensure that the agency continues to deliver services of the highest quality.
In addition, the 211 Resource Center, through its Elder Crisis Outreach component, provided in-home crisis intervention services to more than 400 individuals age 60 and over who were in emotional, financial and/or social distress. The Town of Palm Beach United Way provides partial support for Elder Crisis Outreach.
Another program offered by 211 Palm Beach/Treasure Coast is Sunshine Telephone Reassurance. This primarily volunteer program serves more than 400 elderly and homebound clients by providing a daily, reassuring phone call to check on their well-being. Often, the Sunshine call is the only outside contact the elderly client has all day. Town of Palm Beach United Way and Hobe Sound Community Chest provide partial support for this program.
211 Health Navigator the newest program of 211 Palm Beach/Treasure Coast provides an entry point for health care services for Palm Beach County residents providing assessment, referrals, linkage, advocacy and follow up – including completion of benefit applications and scheduling appointments for health services and follow-up– to those with health care issues.
Client Management Information System is a HUD-funded network, managed by 211, which connects 48 human service agencies that share information about Palm Beach County’s in-peril and homeless populations. 211 staff provide the technical and administrative support for this critical web-based system.
In addition to the actual activities of answering the telephone, listening and responding appropriately to the caller’s needs and issues, there are three key, critical components to 211 Palm Beach/Treasure Coast’s operation. These are Training; Community Resource Database; and Community Awareness. These basic critical activities are as follows:
1) Training: Critical to the functioning of 211 is the training of all paid and volunteer staff provided by 211 staff. Prior to actually answering calls, staff must successfully complete the 100+ hour training/orientation course. Further, there is ongoing, on-the-job training and in-service training activities.
2) Community Resource Database: A second critical activity is the development and maintenance of a comprehensive up-to-date database containing information on available resources. This information is collected, maintained and made available to the public via telephone (by dialing 2-1-1), in printed directories and on the web at www.211palmbeach.org and www.211treasurecoast.org. The database contains information on more than 1,100 agencies and over 3,200 available health and human services.
3) Community Awareness: The third critical activity is ongoing, consistent community awareness efforts to alert the community, including professionals, of the availability of this service. To that end, 211 has two Community Relations Specialists who are responsible for the function of community awareness.