Who is Using 211?

Whether it is a situation where the caller needs help or wants to offer help, 211 indirectly touches the lives of every person in the community by providing people in New Jersey with a place to turn when they need answers to life challenges, both big and small. In 2021, NJ 211 connected over one-million people to the help they were seeking.

The needs most frequently expressed by callers include those associated with:

  • Temporary financial assistance
  • Housing
  • Mental health services
  • Disaster services
  • Government services
  • Health and medical care
  • Food
  • Individual/Family life

Case Examples

211 is the first three-digit telephone number dedicated to health, human services, and community life. It is the place to find the location of shelter during a flood or power outage, information about the nearest childcare center, legal service, housing, immigration, employment, or service in a language other than English.

Case Example 1: Sunday, 6 pm
A 23 year-old woman with her 2 year-old daughter calls in crisis. Her abusive husband has threatened her life and she fears for herself and her daughter's safety. She has gathered a few things and left the house while he is out. Now, she has nowhere to go, it's getting late and she is afraid to return home and find him there waiting for her. She is taking his threats very seriously this time. She dials 2-1-1 looking for help. Here's what happens:

211 Resource Specialist:

  • Listens to story and probes caller for specifics
  • Recognizes the urgency and crisis nature of the call
  • Patches the caller through to the local women's shelter to ensure the woman is connected with an emergency shelter where she can receive domestic violence intervention services

Referrals Made:
Emergency Shelter: Providing the woman and her child with a safe place to stay, indefinitely
Domestic Violence Intervention: Counseling to help the woman escape a life of abuse

Without 211, this young mother may have returned home, putting herself and her child's life at risk.

Case Example 2: Tuesday, 2 am 
Emergency first responder calls from the scene of a response to a 9-1-1 call. A 45 year-old man has fatally shot himself while his wife and two young children were sleeping in the house. The EMS worker recognizes the need for immediate trauma intervention and provides case details to the 211 Community Resource Specialist. Here's what happens:

2-1-1 Resource Specialist:

  • Listens to story and probes caller for specifics
  • Pages a local, on-call trauma response counselor
  • Receives call-back from the trauma response counselor, relays story, and secures trauma response services
  • Calls EMS worker, provides name and cell-phone number of the counselor, who will be on the scene within the hour

Care Management:
In addition to the immediate, on-scene response to the tragedy, the trauma response counselor provides crisis care management, counseling to the family in crisis, assessing their needs and getting them the help they require with an on-going, hands on approach, including:

  • Trauma Counseling: Clinical treatment to stabilize and sustain the mental health of the family
  • Credit Counseling Service: In time, helping the wife to understand her financial circumstances and create a new household budget
  • Community Youth Services: Therapeutic recreational activities for the children

Without 211, this family may have been left to deal with this devastating tragedy on their own.

Case Example 3: Friday, 5 pm 
A 33 year-old man arrives at the office of his local legislator. He reports that he has been locked-out of his apartment due to 3 months uncollected rent. The man has nowhere to go, no credit cards and only $7 cash in his pocket. He plans on sleeping in his car unless he can find other shelter. The legislative aide and the constituent call 211. The following occurs:

211 Community Resource Specialist:

  • Listens to story and probes the caller for specifics
  • Provides name and address of local 24-hour emergency shelter
  • Calls shelter that night to ensure the client has connected
  • Calls client back at work on Monday morning to provide the name and phone number of a local tenant rights organization and to find out if further assistance is necessary

Referrals Made:
Tenant Rights Counseling: Providing the client with knowledge of his legal rights and helping him to communicate appropriately with his landlord
Emergency Shelter: Providing the client a warm and safe place to sleep

Without 211, this man would have spent the cold winter night in his car. 

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