Credit to: Sarah Berthelot, President & CEO of Louisiana Association of United Ways and 211 State Leadership Collaborative Chair
There has been an exciting development on Capitol Hill which involves 211 that will be of great interest to you and your state networks. Please help share this update with your colleagues. This development is the first bipartisan introduction of the HELP Act in the House and Senate since 2009!
Bipartisan Introduction of the Human-services Emergency Logistics Program (HELP) Act in the US Senate and House
On Thursday, May 18, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) along with Congressman Brian Higgins (D-NY-26) and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-1) introduced the bipartisan and bicameral “Human-services Emergency Logistics Program Act of 2023,” also known as the “HELP Act”. The HELP Act, which United Way Worldwide has publicly endorsed, will facilitate increased nationwide accessibility and coordination of 211 services and 988 services to provide information and referrals throughout the United States for mental health emergencies, homelessness, and other human service needs.
The HELP Act will connect people in communities with the human-services and mental health resources they need while reducing the call and response burden on local and state law enforcement agencies.
- Divert non-criminal, non-fire, and non-medical emergency calls from 911 systems to state and regional 211 and 988 systems.
- Provide each state with funds to build out its 211 and 9-8-8 referral systems to link callers to both emergency and long-term human-services and mental health resources to address their needs. Special emphasis would be placed on responses for mental health emergencies, homelessness needs, and other non-criminal emergencies. In addition, the 211 system will serve as a robust resource and referral system capable of linking individuals and families to other human-services needs such as food assistance and childcare.
- Create an oversight system for the 211 and 988 networks comprised of community members who represent older adults, people with disabilities, people of color, and members of other communities. Each system will be evaluated every year and recommendations to improve services will be made public.
As the HELP Act moves through Congress, United Way Worldwide looks forward to working with Senator Casey, Senator Moran, Congressman Higgins, and Congressman Fitzpatrick as well as elected officials on both sides of the aisle to support this important piece of legislation that will greatly strengthen both the 211 and 988 networks and their ability to connect people with vital health and human services. Moving forward, United Way will also share ways for the Network to be involved and engaged in building support for this legislation.
Below is a link to the one-page overview on the Human-services Emergency Logistics (HELP) Act from Senator Casey.