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In Touch 211 in Ontario News

Issue 3. Volume 1. August 2010

H1N1 and 211: Nothing to Sneeze at! Ontario 211 doesn’t just provide a database of helpful services; it pitches in to help local communities deal with public health. A year ago, the media were filled with stories about a pending pandemic – the H1N1 virus. In May of this year, one study reported that Ontario has experienced 128 deaths, due to the virus, and over 1,800 hospitalizations. The same study concluded that mass vaccinations had prevented an additional 427 hospitalizations and 52 deaths. Ontario 211 played a small, but important, role in ensuring that the public were made aware of preventative measures. For example, 211’s South West Region, serving the City of Windsor and Essex County became the community’s inquiry line for information about the H1N1 flu. The South West region worked closely with public health officials to ensure that the public had the most up-to-date information about clinics and flu assessment in the community. 211 was critical to ensure that region-specific information reflected on-going changes made by local health care officials. Jennifer Tanner, the 211 Project Manager for South West, said that her centre handled over 4,000 calls on topics ranging from when


Page 1 • H1N1 and 211: Nothing to Sneeze at! Page 2 • School’s in! 211 Maps Helpful Connections for Students Page 3 • AMO 2010 in Windsor Introduced 211 Services to Many Municipalities • Inform Canada’s Annual Conference - September 27 and 28 Page 4 • Breathing in the AIRS • Upcoming 211 launches Page 5 •

211 Eastern Region Helps Child and Youth Friendly Ottawa Reach Out to Community Page 6 • 211 is a Resource for Staff at Times Change Women’s Employment Service Page 7 • Hurricane Katrina - 211 Helps When You Need It

and where flu clinics were held, to who was eligible for vaccination. By freeing public health staff from answering these calls, additional nurses were available to minimize line ups and wait times at the community clinics. Dr. G. Allen Heimann, Medical Officer of Health for Windsor-Essex, said “211 has been of great assistance to the Health Unit in getting information to the public in a prompt and efficient manner. We couldn’t have done it without them.” As Ontario 211 reaches its goal of providing telephone information and referral services to all Ontarians, it will become an increasingly important auxiliary service for community 1 public health.

School’s In! 211 Maps Helpful Connections for Students 211 plays a key role in linking parents, their children and school officials to the community resources available to address a variety of concerns quickly and effectively. By reducing the amount of time and effort required to find the necessary solutions, small problems are less likely to spiral out of control. This “stitch in time” nature of 211 is one of the primary reasons why 211’s services will grow in importance as it reaches province-wide coverage by 2012. But more than that, 211 is working directly with school boards to ensure they have up to date information about local agencies and services available to children in our primary and secondary schools. In Simcoe County, 211’s Central East Region developed a series of service maps to guide educators (and parents) in finding social resources not available within the school system. These maps guide the user through a series of questions which link to a list of community supports. Some of these questions include: • Is this a Crisis? 211 Central East has created these service maps. This project is part of the region’s Student Support Leadership initiative with the Simcoe County Child Youth and Family Services Coalition. The Student Support Leadership Initiative is a project of the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. 2

Is there a possible Medical (physical) Issue? • Are there Mental Health concerns? • Are there Developmental concerns? • Are there Social/Cultural concerns? • Are there Loss/Bereavement concerns? To have a close look at all the questions and the actual maps, go to: Pages/studentsupportleadership.aspx John Dance, Superintendent of Education for the Simcoe County District School Board, commented how these service maps make it much easier for everyone involved in seeking to help children and families. “The service maps give us a path to community services for those children whose needs go beyond what the school can provide. The maps provide a ready to use guide that is purposeful and functional, saving our time in connecting to community services.” 211 continues to expand its telephone reach and information services to help connect people with the services they need.

AMO 2010 in Windsor Introduced 211 Services to Many Municipalities BELOW: CAO of Durham Region Garry H. Cubitt (left) and Gerry S. Emm (middle), Regional Councillor in Whitby, also generously posed at the booth. 211 Services launch to the Durham Region on September 30.

ABOVE: CAO of South Huron Roy W. Hardy stopped at the booth to say hello. Picutred with Roy is Destiny Bedwell of Ontario 211 Services Corporation. 211 launched in Huron County on June 9.

Inform Canada’s Annual Conference – September 27 and 28, 2010 The Inform Canada conference is the premier conference for those working in the Information & Referral sector and this year the theme focuses on sessions that are: Informative, Innovative and Inspirational. Findhelp Information Services in collaboration with Inform Canada invite you to join your fellow I&R colleagues at the 2010 Canadian Community Information and Referral Conference (CCIRC). It will be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Toronto. This year’s conference promises to: • Advance the effectiveness of Information Referral Specialists through workshops that build knowledge and skills • Maximize the strengths of your organization by learning new techniques and skills • Share innovative projects and best practices • Network with other Information and Referral Specialists, 211 providers, and data experts • Learn from inspirational speakers To register or to find out more, go to: Ontario 211 is proud to be a Gold Sponsor of Inform Canada’s annual conference. 3

Breathing in the AIRS Ontario 211 was pleased to send four Information and Referral Staff to the 2010 AIRS Education Conference held May 23 to 26, 2010 in Rochester, New York. Ontario 211 provided its first ever AIRS Education Bursaries to: • John Allec, Central Region • Lilian Boote, Central East Region • Candice Fader, Southwest Region • Debra Kingsley, Central South Region AIRS, or the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems, plays a vital role in accrediting 211 call centres, certifying Information and Referral Specialists, setting standards, and advocating for broader reach of 211’s telephone service. Its annual conference provides a unique opportunity for 211 staff to understand the latest trends in service delivery, data base design, and telephony trends. Candice spoke of how invaluable the experience was for her working style, explaining that she learned much from how others manage to connect all pieces of the puzzle in identifying underlying caller needs. She said “the answers needed don’t always come when prompted with questions, but quite often simply by listening.” John Allec noted that the large scale and size of the AIRS conference provided opportunities not other wise available. For example, he attended a training session for those who host Certification workshops. “It

was great to finally meet people I’d only worked with via teleconference, as that can make such a difference in building trust and understanding.” John also presented a workshop on “Tapping into Topic Searches.” Debra Kingsley expressed her appreciation for the bursary. “I was able to return to Information Niagara and my staff with innovative skill builiding ideas, some specific improvements to our performance evaluation practices as well as some further methods to assist staff as they prepare for the Certification exams.” Lillian Boote said the conference was of great benefit. She focused on the sessions dealing with emergencies and disasters as it is a priority for Community Connections, the 211 Service Provider for Central East Region. She learned about managing databases and software in times of emergency, the need to align with government agencies and other 211 centres, recruiting and managing volunteers, and communications with staff, the public and the media. “The intelligence gleaned at the Conference from the experiences of our colleagues is invaluable in developing reasonable and practical goals. I thank Ontario 211 for this opportunity.” Many other staff from Ontario 211’s regions also attended, including Faed Henry, Manager of Findhelp’s Training and Outreach, who presented “The ABCs of I & R”.

Upcoming 211 Launches


Algoma - September 20, 2010 Oxford - September 22, 2010 Hamilton - September 24, 2010 Durham Region - September 30, 2010 Rainy River - October 18, 2010 211 services are coming to about 20 communities in 2010. Visit our website for the 211 launch updates.

211 Eastern Region Helps Child and Youth Friendly Ottawa Reach Out to Community

Most parents across the province are smiling at the thought of their kids returning to school. But what if you can’t afford the back to school necessities? The cost of back packs, binders, paper, pencils, markers, geometry sets, rulers and binders can add up very quickly. 211’s Eastern Region has joined a new partnership with the Tools4School initiative, an initiative of Child and Youth Friendly Ottawa (CAYFO). Tools4School collects “gently used” and new school supplies donated by the community. Families in need simply call 211 to receive information on where they can register for needed items. This timely initiative is similar to how 211 helps the Christmas Exchange and Toy Mountain, two seasonal assistance charities in Ottawa, which provide food vouchers and toys to families in need. This past winter, for a second year in a row, Christmas Exchange and Toy Mountain utilized and promoted the 211 telephone number to direct people to find out where they can register and pick their toys, voucher or hamper for the holidays. “Community partnerships and collaborations are important to us and we wish to demonstrate how to improve the community we live in. 211 creates value by providing opportunities especially to increase the organizational

capacity of other organizations”, says MarieAndrée Carrière, Executive Director of 211’s Eastern Region. The Community Information Centre of Ottawa, a charitable non-profit organization, operates 211’s Eastern Region, serving Ottawa and Eastern Ontario. Reaching out to the community and participating in community projects, initiatives and trainings is also important to 211 Ottawa. In the past year, 211 was part of the nonprofit engagement committee which planned Kindness Week, a collaboration of numerous community groups and members to make a conscious choice to contribute to a kinder Ottawa. A 211 advisory committee, drawn from the network of community agencies, is being created to increase the ties between 211 Ottawa and the various communities it serves. Marie-Andrée Carrière said “This is just one of the many examples of the great partnership and community participation work the 211 can bring to a community.” The Eastern Region celebrates its second anniversary in September.


211 is a Resource for Staff at Time Change Women’s Employment Service Katie Didyk, Marketing and Outreach Coordinator for Times Change Women’s Employment Service, relies on 211’s services, including the internet and phone channels, as well as the Blue Book for Toronto. While she encourages clients to call 211 directly to get the additional help they need, she also calls on behalf of her clients. The most frequent assistance clients of Times Change are looking for include housing, child care, computer training, employment and community services. In her mind, the accessibility, convenience and wealth of information are key to help clients who don’t know where to turn for help. She related one particular story. “I was at the front desk when an older, soft spoken woman came into our offices asking about our services. She owned her own small business doing sewing repairs but was looking for new career options. I noticed she was visibly upset and I brought her to my office to speak with her.

“She confessed that she was in a mentally abusive relationship with her husband for the past 10 years and doesn’t know what to do but knows she needs help. I got out the 211 book from our Resource Centre and thumbed to the section on women and searched for women and counseling services. We chose three services located on 211 to follow up with, including a counseling referral service, a shelter, and women’s health clinic. “I continued to see this client over the next few months in the computer room and in the Resource Centre and I periodically asked how she was, and she assured me that she was getting the help she needed. I know she was so appreciative of the help she was able to locate and I remember her saying she had no idea previously how to look for this kind of information.” 211 helps agencies and clients find the help they need.

2-1-1 is a free, confidential information and referral service that makes finding community services and social resources in Ontario simple. 211 can be accessed through the three-digit phone number, 2-1-1, and the Internet at 211’s phone and internet is accessible 24/7 and can serve people in more than 150 languages. The Province of Ontario, Government of Canada, United Way of Canada-Centraide, United Ways of Ontario, Ontario Trillium Foundation, Citizenship and Immigration Canada and several municipalities support 211 in Ontario.


Ontario 211 Services Corporation 543 Richmond Street West, Suite 220, Box 114 Toronto, Ontario. M5V 3R7 Phone: 416-777-0211

In Touch Newsletter Editor: Destiny Bedwell Email: Phone: 416-777-0211, ext. 225

Hurricane Katrina – 211 Helps When You Need It centre expanded to fifty six seats overnight and stayed operating at full capacity for almost three months. Volunteers arrived from across the United States to help the Monroe staff answer unprecedented call volumes. In one 24-hour period, the 211 centre dealt with 7,358 calls. The desperation of many of On August 25, 2005, connect displaced family these calls was heart-breaking Hurricane Katrina roared members. – people stranded on roof tops through the Gulf of Mexico, waiting for rescue, families Pam Hillier, Executive uprooting trees, boats and Director of Ontario’s Central who had lost everything they homes. Next came the ever owned, evacuees looking East Region, was on hand flooding which pushed aside for the 5th anniversary of the for food, clothing and shelter, the old levees, drowning parents separated from their hurricane disaster. Pam is much of New Orleans in a children or elderly parents, a member of a small team mess of toxic effluent. Many of North American 211 senior citizens trying to fill died and many more prescriptions, and in were displaced Volunteers arrived from across the some cases without proof while waiting for the United States to help the Monroe of who they were. Calls staff answer unprecedented call emergency response into FEMA and Red volumes. In one 24-hour period, the from state and Cross went unanswered 211 centre dealt with 7,358 calls. federal governments. for hours and sometimes days, so many of the Local 211s did calls went to 211 instead. not wait however. professionals who conduct site The community quickly visits for 211 organizations Natural disasters, whether organized its telephone going through the AIRS hurricanes, floods, ice storms networks to route calls accreditation process. or heat waves, strike on to areas less affected by their own timetable. Human “When I heard that the the havoc. 211 Northeast Monroe 211 was to have a site beings cannot control the Louisiana, located in the city visit, I signed up immediately. timing of these events, but we of Monroe was designated must be prepared to respond. Their operation is similar one of the key response 211 has demonstrated its in size to our Collingwood systems set up to respond to agency and I knew they would ability to respond in a quick the devastation in the Gulf and effective manner. 211 have useful experiences Coast states by providing provides help when it is most to share with us.” While 24/7 helpline for victims, needed. there, she met with staff and relocation assistance for volunteers and heard first evacuees and helping to 7 hand how the four seat call

211 Ontario News - In Touch Newsletter - August 2010  

The newsletter for 211 in Ontario Canada.

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