Kids and Screen Time



Vermont 2-1-1

The staff and volunteers at Vermont 2-1-1 send you wishes for a happy holiday season and a reminder that you can dial 2-1-1 24 hours a day, every day of the year. 

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.

Emergency Housing in Vermont

Through a partnership with the State of Vermont’s Economic Services Division, Vermont 2-1-1 administers the After Hours Emergency Housing Program beginning at 4:30pm weekdays, throughout weekends and on state/federal holidays. Housing in Vermont has reached a critical need.

Vermont 2-1-1 Information and Referral (I&R) Specialists responded to 203 calls regarding housing needs. I&R specialists provide needs assessment, problem-solving support, and information and referrals to a wide range of services to each caller. Review Vermont 2-1-1’s Emergency Housing Report for October here.

Did You Know…?

You can reach us by phone 4 ways by:

  1. Simply dialing 2-1-1 – a local call from anywhere in Vermont
  2. Dialing 1-866-652-4636 – toll free in Vermont
  3. Dialing (802) 652-4636 – from outside of Vermont
  4. Texting your zip code – to 898211

The Vermont 2-1-1 Contact Center is available 24/7. Texting is only available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Vermont 2-1-1 Web Statistics

In addition to the contact statistics, the following data is from the 2-1-1 website and shows how the public used the database search engine during the month of October:

Top Services: Homeless Motel Vouchers (310 searches); Christmas Programs (166 searches); Clothing Donation Programs (153 searches); Community Meals (144 searches); Pet Care Services (140 searches)

Top Agencies: Salvation Army (Rutland); Champlain Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO); Northeast Kingdom Community Action (NEKCA); Salvation Army (Burlington); Vermont Department for Children and Families – Economic Services Division

Top Search by City: Burlington; Essex Junction; Hancock; New Haven; Rutland

Total Site Visits: 4609

Unique (First-Time) Visitors: 2013

Kids and Screen Time

Smartphones, computers and other media devices are a part of our every day lives. But research has shown that when it comes to kids, too much tech and too little face-to-face time with family and friends can delay the development of communication, language and social skills.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children 18 months and younger should not use screen media other than video-chatting with family and loved ones. For children 18 months to 5 years, parents should choose high-quality programming and apps that they view with their children and limit screen use to 1 hour or less per day. Parents should avoid letting children use media by themselves.

Here are some helpful tips for managing your family’s media use:

  • Make a family media use plan. This can help parents think about how to use media thoughtfully and make sure other important activities like sleep, outdoor-play, reading and family activities get priority. The AAP has a useful link to help families get started.
  • Set limits. In addition to limiting the amount of time your child uses media, know what platforms and apps your children are using, what sites they are visiting on the web, and what they are doing online.
  • Make unplugged playtime a daily priority. Unstructured play stimulates creativity and engaging in back-and-forth “talk time” is critical for language development and improves language skills much more than one-way interaction with a screen.
  • Be a good role model. Limiting your own media use means you will be more engaged with your child and be able to give them your full attention while setting a good example.
  • Create tech-free zones. Keep meal times and children’s bedrooms screen free. This encourages healthier eating habits and better sleep, which are critical for children’s wellness.
  • Don’t use technology as an emotional pacifier. Children need to be taught how to identify and handle strong emotions, learn how to come up with activities to manage boredom and ways to calm down and solve problems.  These are important skills for the healthy development of your child.



Vermont 2-1-1 · PO Box 111 · Essex Junction, VT 05453 · USA


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