Vermont 2-1-1 Monthly Contact Statistics
A message from the Director, MaryEllen Mendl
October’s call volume of 2,540 is indicative of the changing season and 2-1-1 Contact Specialists are hunkering down for another very busy season helping those in need escape the often life-threatening cold nights. This month’s housing-related calls continue the historical trend of a significant uptick in the requests for referrals to housing resources. The Adverse Weather Conditions set forth by the Department for Children and Families started on November 1st , but the race to escape the cold weather had already begun during October. The number of referrals in the Housing/Shelter sub-category shows an 18% increase over September. This month these referrals make up 77% of the total in the Basic Needs category. October’s prelude to Vermont’s winter weather has local non-profits actively planning and preparing for the opening of their warming shelters. These mostly volunteer-run, cold weather shelters will serve the most vulnerable members of our Vermont communities and most will fill to capacity each night.
Another noteworthy increase in requests for assistance this month can be seen in the Public Assistance Programs sub-category. These types of calls are clearly in line with the numbers we saw this past winter in January of 2017. Primarily, referrals were made to General Relief, an income maintenance program administered and funded entirely by each county, that provides basic financial assistance for people who are “indigent” – a term that should be understood as describing individuals in need who are truly down and out. This sub-category also includes referrals to Reach Up, 3SquaresVT, WIC and other State and Federal public assistance programs.
October’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day proved to be another successful, single-day push to remove unused prescription drugs from medicine cabinets as a preventive measure against misuse of leftover medications. Once again Vermonters were encouraged to participate by turning in unused, expired and unwanted prescription drugs at specified, local collection sites. This nationwide collection effort is held twice a year, but Vermonters can drop off their prescription drugs any day of the year at numerous local sites. Governor Phil Scott is promoting Vermont 2-1-1 as the number to call for a list of collection sites and Vermont 2-1-1 is working closely with the Vermont Department of Health to keep the medication drop-off information accurate and up-to-date. Contact Specialists responded to more than 60 calls and the Vermont 2-1-1 website showed 100 hits for this information in October alone, a good sign that Vermonters are interested in properly disposing of their unused medications.
Finally, October’s data reveals 67 referrals to the Disaster Services sub-category. The referrals were in response to sheltering information requests due to the worst recorded wind storm to hit Vermont. This powerful windstorm moved into regions of Vermont during the early morning hours on Monday, October 30th, downing trees, cutting power to thousands of homes and shuttering dozens of roads. While responding to requests for storm-related information and assistance, 2-1-1 Contact Specialists were also tracking Vermonters’ needs and sharing that with Vermont Emergency Management, the Agency of Human Services, American Red Cross, and other state and local partners. The information collected at the 2-1-1 Contact Center helped to identify the regions where community emergency shelters might be needed.
Read Vermont 2-1-1’s monthly contact volume report here.