United Way promotes 211 for nonemergencies

Need food or low-cost health insurance, drug treatment, senior services or other social services?

Who you gonna call?

The new 211 phone system.

Stanislaus County is scheduled to launch the system today for nonemergency information and referrals. The service is free, provided by United Way of Stanislaus County in partnership with Stanislaus County Children and Families Commission, Kaiser Permanente, Tenet Healthcare Foundation, Stanislaus County and its nine cities.

The service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Operators answer the phone and, after determining the callers' needs, refer them to the appropriate service.

There are more than 2,100 services offered by nonprofit, community-based organizations and government agencies in Stanislaus County. Knowing which one to call and finding the right telephone number is a daunting hurdle.

The referral system offers help with basic human needs, physical and mental health issues, employment support, support for older people and those with disabilities, children, youth and families and volunteer opportunities.

The 211 service is part of a nationwide program, available in 40 states.

Those with emergencies still should call 911.