Vermont 2-1-1 Monthly Contact Statistics
A message from the Director, MaryEllen Mendl
February 11, 2017 marked Vermont 2-1-1’s 12th Anniversary and the entire 2-1-1 team would like to take this occasion to express its sincere appreciation for the United Ways of Vermont’s continued commitment to the Vermont 2-1-1 program! Over the past twelve years, our delivery of professional information and referral services to Vermonters has grown in strength, expanded in scope, and increased in reputation, in large part due to the steadfast support of each of Vermont’s local United Way agencies!
Over 11,000 requests for assistance came into our Vermont 2-1-1 call center during the first two months of 2017 and 5,691 of those calls were made in February. February averaged 203 incoming calls per day of service, which is on average 12 more incoming calls per day of service than January.
Each year more and more Vermonters are calling Vermont 2-1-1 to find out where they can receive free income tax preparation services. In February, referrals to Tax Organizations and Services totaled 897 showing the largest increase in call numbers over January than any other sub-category. All Vermonters can call 2-1-1 for accurate information about local Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites closest to them and myfreetaxes.com. Our Contact Specialists will also provide information about income eligibility guidelines to callers requesting this free service.
This year, individuals who live or work in Windham and Southern Windsor Counties, have been able to dial 2-1-1 to be transferred directly to a tax scheduler for appointments. In Chittenden County, appointments for filing assistance are being scheduled, live, in real time, by the 2-1-1 Contact Specialists. Vermont 2-1-1 has taken the tax filing assistance scheduling initiative to pilot our new texting platform. The important “what to bring” information to make sure that the VITA tax preparer can get Vermonters the refunds they deserve is now being texted to callers.
February housing statistics were second only to December, 2016 (see After Hours Housing Report) and 30% of the contacts were inquiries to the Cold Weather Exception automated line. Crucial to Vermont’s ability to house so many of its most vulnerable population during the winter season is the longstanding commitment of local, volunteer-run emergency warming shelters throughout the state. In the first two months of 2017, a total of 107 referrals were made to Cold Weather and Warming Centers while Vermont 2-1-1 was administering the after-hours emergency housing program. This number, in conjunction with the large numbers of shelter placements recorded by other housing partners, illustrates how life threatening Vermont winters can be for Vermonters without stable housing.
The existence of these vital community shelters has provided safe havens for our homeless population; offering warm, safe spaces to sleep and places to connect to agency partners who can assist them with gaining access to appropriate resources. Reliance upon these “filled-to-capacity” shelters most certainly speaks to the kindness and dignity with which occupants are treated, but it also speaks to the now longstanding, and growing, need for permanent housing solutions.
Referrals to specialized Information and Referral partners continue to be broken out and can be found at the bottom of the report’s second page. An example to note is the Child Care Resource and Referral inquires that are transferred by the 2-1-1 Contact Specialists to the Help Me Grow Vermont Child Development Specialists for their professional assessments and referrals. These important partnerships provide a network of support and a “no wrong door” approach to Information and Referral.
Read Vermont 2-1-1’s monthly contact volume report here.