Consolidated System Means Forsyth County Residents Will Dial 211 For Referral Services
For nearly 30 years, residents in Forsyth County have used FIRST Line to access information about resources when they are facing challenging times. But as of August 1, people will dial 211 for referral services and connect to a new website.
On Wednesday, the United Way of Forsyth County and the Forsyth County Department of Social Services (DSS) announced the consolidation of the two systems.
Now when residents call 211, they will now be connected to a centralized call center in Raleigh.
“FIRST Line itself received about 50 to 75 calls per day. Some of the most common questions are legal questions dealing with child support, child abuse, food assistance, even dental assistance for those without insurance. People just have to remember those three digits, so it should be much easier for everybody,” says Matt Faircloth, with Forsyth County DSS.
The Department of Social Services took over FIRST Line from the county’s public library system a few years ago, because of budget cuts and an increase in calls and web traffic.
Faircloth says the change will provide more efficiency and could result in shorter wait times for users. He says the partnership with the United Way gives the county an opportunity to shift resources, so employees that were working with FIRST Line will now be able to focus on core DSS work.
Currently, more than 90 counties in North Carolina use the NC211 referral system. Cindy Gordineer is the CEO and President of the United Way of Forsyth County. She says the free program is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
“By having a centralized call center in Raleigh, it allows people who live somewhere else to access information, for example if someone lives in Winston-Salem but their parents live in Wilmington, they can call 211 and get connected to the resources they need,” says Gordineer.
The United Way 211 system has a network of over 18,000 resources available in North Carolina.