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 www.211ontario.ca for the 211 launch updates.