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211 Services - United States and Canada

  • Published: 2012-06-08 (Rev. 2016-06-11) - Contact: Ian Langtree at Disabled World
  • Synopsis: Information and links to 2-1-1 phone and website services in the United States and Canada.

Definition: 2-1-1 Number

A special abbreviated telephone number reserved in Canada and the United States as an easy-to-remember three-digit telephone number meant to provide quick information and referrals to health and human service organizations.

Main Document

"The FCC intended the 211 code as an easy-to-remember and universally recognizable number that would enable a critical connection between individuals and families in need and the appropriate community-based organizations and government agencies."

211 provides free and confidential information and referral. The implementation of 211 is spearheaded by United Ways and information and referral agencies in states and local communities.

Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, trained counselors answer 211 calls, assess the needs of each caller and link them to the best available information and services. 211 is also available on the Internet, allowing users to find their own way to programs and services.

In July 2000, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reserved the 211 dialing code for community information and referral services.

The FCC intended the 211 code as an easy-to-remember and universally recognizable number that would enable a critical connection between individuals and families in need and the appropriate community-based organizations and government agencies. Dialing 211 helps the elderly, the disabled, those who do not speak English, those who are having a personal crisis, those who have limited reading skills, or those who are new to their communities, among others, by providing referrals to, and information about, health and human services organizations and agencies.

Types of referrals offered by 211 include basic human needs and resources including:

  • Work Support - including financial assistance, job training, transportation assistance and education programs.
  • Support for Older Americans 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 child care, after school programs, educational programs for low-income families, family resource centers, summer camps and recreation programs, mentoring, tutoring and protective services.
  • 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.
  • Emergency Suicide Prevention - referral to suicide prevention help organizations. Callers can also dial the following National Suicide Prevention Hotline numbers operated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services: 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433), 1-877-SUICIDA (1-877-784-2432) (Spanish).

2-1-1 Services United States

In 2010, 2-1-1 services in the United States answered more than 16.4 million calls. As of October 2011, 2-1-1 serves over 260 million Americans (86.6% of the entire population) covering all 50 states (including 37 states with 90%+ coverage) plus Washington DC and Puerto Rico.

2-1-1 United States - - Main site for background information on 2-1-1 as an information and referral service accessible by dialing the three-digit code 2-1-1

2-1-1 Services Canada

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approved the use of 2-1-1 throughout Canada on August 9, 2001. The first Canadian 2-1-1 service opened in Toronto on June 13, 2002. As of May 2011, more than 19 million Canadians , more than 56% of the population, have access to 2-1-1 services.

2-1-1 Canada -

NOTE: Individuals in th U.S. or Canada who wish to donate time or money to community help organizations can also do so by dialing 211.


  1. 2-1-1 Rhode Island to Manage State's Aging and Disability Resource Center - Rhode Island Disability News - United Way 2-1-1 in Rhode Island awarded 3 year grant to manage the Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) known as THE POINT.
  2. Canada's 811 Phone Health Care System - Disabled World - (2014-05-26)
  3. Free Phone Service Offers Advice on Memory Loss and Dementia - University of Michigan Health System - (2012-03-08)


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