What’s Going on at Help Me Grow VT?

Vermont 2-1-1

Vermont 2-1-1 Monthly Contact Statistics

A message from the Director, MaryEllen Mendl

Contact volume totals in January have started the year off strong!  Over 5,500 contacts were made to the Vermont 2-1-1 contact center.  An increased need for housing and utility assistance is evidenced by the fact that these two sub-categories made up 92% of total contacts in the Basic Needs category and 25% of the total amount of contacts during this first month of 2018.

In January, the number of emergency housing calls remained high with 870 requests for emergency shelter. This total represents a 26% increase over January 2017.  Vermont 2-1-1 provides after-hours provisional housing for the Department of Children and Families and historically, the Agency of Human Services’ Cold Weather Exception Policy (now known as the Adverse Weather Conditions, or AWC) has allowed individuals who would not normally meet the eligibility criteria to be housed during the coldest winter nights. Of course, first line of defense has always been to fill the community shelters and then to fill the volunteer-run “overflow shelters” that numerous faith communities temporarily open in response to the increased need for shelter from the cold. In spite of  vigorous efforts of the shelters to house those in need, January’s extreme cold temperatures meant implementation of the State’s policy and resulted in the provision of multiple nights of temporary housing for Vermonters in need, sheltering them from the extreme cold in very basic, but warm, settings. Further, the State opened two Emergency Weather Shelters for a period of 3-4 nights — one in Rutland and one in Burlington, historically the two counties with the highest volume of people experiencing homelessness. In addition to the high number of housing requests and referrals, there were 1,709 calls (duplicated) to the automated information on the Adverse Weather Condition status for specific communities.

As always, the month of January began 2-1-1’s “tax season,” which has historically been responsible for a spike in contact volume and was the impetus for the launch of two-way texting.  More and more Vermonters are calling Vermont 2-1-1 to find out where they can receive free income tax preparation assistance. In Chittenden and Addison Counties, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., 2-1-1 Information and Referral Specialists actually schedule the appointments for individuals. Individuals who live or work in Windham and Windsor Counties can dial 2-1-1 to be directly transferred to a tax scheduler to make their appointments. All Vermonters can call 2-1-1 for accurate information about local Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites closest to them or for free, online e-filing preparation assistance.  Vermonters who prefer to text can do so by texting their zip code to 898211 to receive important information regarding VITA, MyFreeTaxes, and AARP tax sites. Vermont 2-1-1 Contact Specialists can also provide information about income eligibility guidelines and screening. It is anticipated that a further increase in contact volume due to tax filing related inquiries will occur in February, as each year more and more Vermonters realize that a call to 2-1-1 provides them with the information they need to access these important services.

Referrals to Public Assistance Programs had a strong start in the new year. This is a trend we see here at 211 that historically will peak in the months of December and January and then begin to taper off. Thirty-seven percent all contacts linked to the category Income Support and Employment were realized in this two month period.

Read Vermont 2-1-1’s monthly contact volume report here.

What’s Going on at Help Me Grow VT?

With the new year started, here are a few reminders about ways to support early childhood development and how to access Help Me Grow VT:

CDC Milestone Tracker Mobile App

The Center fro Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Have a new app that helps you track your child’s developmental milestones from age 2 months to 5 years. It provides:

  • illustrated checklists
  • tips to encourage your child’s development
  • what to do if you’re concerned about how your child is developing
  • helps you keep track of doctor appointments and reminders about recommended screenings
  • gives you a summary of your child’s milestones that you can share with your child’s doctor
  • Since more than one child can be entered into the app, early educators can use it to track the children they care for.

You can download the app from the App Store or Google Play. Get more information by visiting the CDC/Learn the Signs. Act Early website.

Website and Facebook 

Visit our website! You can learn more about Help Me Grow VT, find information on how to support your child’s physical, social and emotional development and find helpful resources. Not parenting a child birth to age 8? There’s also resources and information for child health care providers, early childhood educators and community service providers.
You can also follow us on Facebook!

Ways to Refer

On our website, you can complete a referral form for a family you work with or for yourself. The referral can be sent electronically to Help Me Grow VT Child Development Specialists or faxed. (Our email is HIPAA compliant and parent permission for being referred is required.) 

Ways to Connect

You can reach a Child Development Specialist at Help Me Grow VT Monday-Friday from 9:00-6:00 by dialing 2-1-1 ext.6 or text HMGVT to 898211. You can also contact with us by email via our website. We are here to provide referrals and information on community agencies and resources, answer parenting questions, provide information on developmental milestones and offer support.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Emergency Housing in Vermont

Through a partnership with the State of Vermont’s Economic Services Division, Vermont 2-1-1 administers the After Hours Emergency Housing Program beginning at 4:30pm weekdays, throughout weekends and on state/federal holidays. Housing in Vermont has reached a critical need.

Vermont 2-1-1 Information and Referral (I&R) Specialists responded to 870 calls regarding housing needs. I&R specialists provide needs assessment, problem-solving support, and information and referrals to a wide range of services to each caller. Review Vermont 2-1-1’s Emergency Housing Report for January here.

Vermont 2-1-1 Web Statistics

In addition to the contact statistics, the following data is from the 2-1-1 website and shows how the public used the database search engine during the month of January:

Top Services: Homeless Intake (formerly homeless motel vouchers) (418 searches); Cold Weather Shelters (245 searches); Community Meals (141 searches); Pet Care Services (129 searches); Dental Care (118 searches)

Top Agencies: Vermont Department for Children and Families – Economic Services; Salvation Army (Rutland); Capstone Community Action; Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO); COTS

Top Search by City: Hancock; Burlington; Brattleboro; New Haven; Rutland

Total Site Visits: 4944

Unique (First-Time) Visitors: 1806

Don’t Forget to Support Your Local United Way!

Each year we see United Way volunteers and staff put on their campaign hats and venture out to raise money for the organization. Your local United Way is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of people in your local communities by addressing critical human needs in the critical cornerstone areas of education, financial stability, and health. By bringing people and organizations together around innovative solutions, our local United Ways impact thousands of lives every year. These collaborative, community-based, community-led solutions advance the common good and strive to create a good quality of life for all. The United Way delivers the solutions needed to drive change, but the change starts with each of us. Together we are stronger!

As a program of the United Ways of Vermont, Vermont 2-1-1 asks you to join us in living united! Your contributions will be working year-round building a brighter future for our children, enriching the lives of our elderly, giving hope to those who are hurting, strengthening families, and so much more.

Please join us in helping to build a better future! Thank you.

February — The All-Important American Heart Month!

Along with Valentine’s Day, February marks American Heart Month, a great time to commit to a healthy lifestyle and make small changes that can lead to a lifetime of heart health.  American Heart Month, a federally designated event, is a great way to remind us all to focus on our heart health and to encourage us to get our families, friends and communities involved in heart healthy activities. In Vermont we have many organization working together to build a culture of health where making the healthy choice is the easy choice.

There are five heart healthy tips that our health care professionals tell us will go a long way toward improving are heart health:

  • Find time to be active. Aim for at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week. Why not invite fitness buddies on an afternoon stroll or try an exercise class or challenge the whole family to a soccer match?
  • Make healthy eating a habit. Small changes in your eating habits can make a big difference. Try making healthier versions of your favorite recipes. How? Look for ways to lower sodium and trans fat, and add more fruits and vegetables.
  • Quit tobacco—for good. Smoking cigarettes and using other tobacco products affects nearly every organ in your body, including your heart. Quitting can be tough, but it can be easier when you feel supported.  (See online support at 802 Quits or call 1-800-Quit-Now [784-8669])
  • Know your numbers. High blood pressure and high cholesterol are major risk factors for heart disease. Ask your health care team and to check your blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels regularly and/or stop in at blood pressure clinics periodically offered at community meal sites, local pharmacies, and health fairs.
  • Stick to the ’script. Taking your medications can be tough, especially if you feel fine. But sticking with your medication routine is important for managing and controlling conditions that could put your heart at risk.

Vermont 2-1-1 provides Vermonters with information about the many heart health resources and programs that many organizations, including the Vermont Department of Health, the YMCA, the Area Agencies on Aging, RiseVT, and local recreation departments are offering to Vermonters throughout the year.

Search 2-1-1’s online Resource Directory using the following key words:

Or simply dial 2-1-1 (or text your zip code to 898211) and have a discussion with one of our contact specialists about programs available in your area. Then send the very best heartfelt Valentine by spreading the word about strategies for preventing heart disease and encouraging those around you to have their heart health checked and commit to heart-healthy lives.



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