Vermont 2-1-1 Launches Texting Platform!
Vermont 2-1-1 Launches Texting Platform!

Vermont 2-1-1 Launches Texting Platform!



Vermont 2-1-1

Vermont 2-1-1 Launches Texting Platform!

The 2-1-1 texting service allows people to receive referrals via rapid-response texts so they don’t have to use valuable phone minutes, while at the same time allowing our 2-1-1 contact specialists to respond even more quickly to callers whose needs require more in-depth problem-solving and research.

With the addition of texting, Vermont 2-1-1 now offers four ways to find local resources in Vermont:

1. Dial 2-1-1 or (866) 652-4636 to speak with a highly trained Contact Specialist who will provide individualized assistance 24 hours a day/7 days a week.

2. Text your zip code to 898211 for help Monday through Friday 8am to 8pm

3. Search online at

4. Email

Read the full press release here.

Vermont 2-1-1 Monthly Contact Statistics

A message from the Director, MaryEllen Mendl

The Vermont 2-1-1 contact center closed out this year’s tax season in April with over 2,100 referrals to tax filing assistance programs. The growing awareness of free tax filing assistance programs that help low- to moderate-income taxpayers has meant that each year more Vermonters have valuable discretionary income for everyday essentials such as housing, utilities, and food expenses.  This year, in Chittenden County, 2-1-1 Contact Specialists scheduled appointments in real time. Our Contact Specialists also provided information about income eligibility guidelines to callers requesting this free service. Vermont and Federal income taxes filing assistance totaled 8,134 and total refunds amounted to over $5 million.

Vermont 2-1-1 used scheduling appointments in Chittenden County this year as an opportunity to pilot its new texting platform. During this pilot, 531 people in Chittenden County received text messages confirming their tax preparation appointment and the important documents to bring with them to make sure that the VITA tax preparers could get Vermonters the refunds they deserve. Over 800 individuals were provided the information via email and an additional 120 individuals were sent the information via US Postal service. In previous years, the list of documents required for these appointments had needed to be mailed out to every client.

This month’s increase in the number of referrals to Community Planning and Public Works sub-category exemplifies an important aspect of Vermont 2-1-1’s mission. Through a Public Service Announcement sponsored by the Vermont Department of Health and Governor Phil Scott, 2-1-1 was promoted as the number for Vermonters to call to find out about sites participating in National Prescription Take Back Day. Aired on major television stations across the state, the Public Service Announcement provided Vermonters with the simple, easy-to-remember 2-1-1 number for accessing information about medication disposal sites nearest to them. Callers were also given information about nearby safe and permanent drop off sites, with many learning that the safe disposal of unused medicine is a year-round activity in Vermont, not limited to the national one-day initiative. These permanent drop-off locations, now available in many of our local communities, allow Vermonters to get potentially dangerous leftover drugs out of their homes on almost any day of the year. Local police departments, county sheriffs, and local pharmacies now offer this important service to community members. On National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, the number of drop-off locations in Vermont increased to make it even more convenient to dispose of unused prescription medicines. In April 2017, there was a 19% increase over April 2016 in referrals to prescription medication disposal sites

During April, calls for emergency housing declined; only 128 requests for emergency shelter were received, less than half the number of requests in April 2016. Vermont 2-1-1 provides after-hours provisional housing for the Department for Children and Families, and this year’s cold “spring” weather meant a continuation of requests for emergency housing information.  An additional 237 automated calls for information on cold weather exception were handled without the caller needing to speak directly to one of our information and referral specialists.  The number of Vermonters needing help with non-emergency housing related issues also remained high in April and included referrals to service providers for rent payment assistance, subsidized rental housing and housing authorities.

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

Resource Corner: Watching Out for Summer’s “Pesky Pests”

As happy as we Vermonters are to be outside in the sunshine —Beware!  “Pesky pests” can make outdoor adventuring miserable and even dangerous for humans and their animals. Ticks, mosquitos, and earwigs are expected to arrive early and be very active throughout Vermont this season. This is particularly true of the Vermont black-legged tick (deer tick). The deer tick is responsible for over 99% of all tick-borne diseases reported to the Vermont Department of Health, including the newly tracked Powassan virus.

Vermont 2-1-1 actively partners with the Vermont Department of Health as a “health information helpline.” Information & Referral Specialists at Vermont 2-1-1 are able to refer callers to local resources so they may receive the most up-to-date information about the potential dangers of Vermont’s summertime threats: Lyme Disease, Powassan Virus, West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), and the Zika Virus.

Search the 2-1-1 database for the following terms:

And follow these links:

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 128 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 April here.

HMG VT Update: Parental Resilence

Being a parent is tough work and comes with all kinds of stressors and bumps in the road. For our fifth and final protective factor, we are going to share some information about Parental Resilience. So, what does that mean? Resilience is being strong even when you are stressed. It means being able to bounce back and manage stress when faced with challenges, adversity and trauma.

Being resilient as a parent means:

  • Taking care of yourself and asking for help when you need it
  • Feeling good about yourself and hopeful about your future
  • Planning for the future and for what you will do in situations that you know are challenging for you
  • Not allowing stress to get in the way of providing loving care for your child
  • Taking time to really enjoy your child and what you like about parenting
No one can completely eliminate stress from parenting, but building resilience and strengthening the other protective factors can change how you deal with stress. Having social connections, knowing how to get concrete supports when you need them, understanding your child’s development and your strengths as a parent, and having social and emotional competency can all play a role in building your strength to deal with life’s stress. Here are some ideas to help you build up your parenting resiliency each day:
  • Write down all the things you love to do with your child and think of ways you are going to make more time to do them.
  •  Identify your most challenging parenting moments and make a plan for what you will do when these moments come up.
  • What helps you feel less stressed? Create a list of stress-buster activities to use on those difficult days.
  • Make time each day to do one thing that you are good at.
HMG VT has been fortunate to work with the Center for the Study of Social Policy to help promote the protective factors in our state, and help us support all parents in building a strong family. Click here for more information on the Stregthening Families Five Protective Factors.
For more information on the five Protective Factors and other community resources and services to support your family, contact a HMG VT Child Development Specialist by dialing 2-1-1 and pressing ext. 6 Monday though Friday from 9:00- 6:00. Also, check out our website and Facebook. We have lots of information for families to help you support your child’s development and for providers to help them support the families they work with.

New, Innovative Partnership between Age Well and UWsVT for VT Senior Helpline

Age Well, Northwestern Vermont’s leading resource and advocates for the aging population and Vermont 2-1-1, United Way’s Information & Referral program, are excited to announce an innovative partnership to improve and expand the Senior Helpline. When Vermont seniors and their families call into the Helpline, Age Well Information & Referral coordinators will now be utilizing a new software platform, ReferNet, which is supported by the Vermont 211 resource database. Utilizing ReferNet, Age Well can now capture more accurate call information that not only reduces duplication of client records, but also helps to identify the needs of Vermont Seniors.

Kathleen Peterson, Age Well’s Client Access Team Lead, stated, “ReferNet is a powerful tool that allows our Information & Assistance professionals to efficiently and accurately provide our callers with the support and guidance they need to meet today’s challenges.  It is rewarding to be able to hit a few keys and solve a problem for our seniors.”

MaryEllen Mendl, Vermont 2-1-1’s Director, stated, “There is a natural partnership between Vermont 2-1-1 and Referral and Assistance programs such as Age Well and the Helpline. The 2-1-1 Resource Database is updated regularly by dedicated staff, saving the need to create a redundant system and deploying of staff resources.”

Read the full press release 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 April:

Top Services: Medication Disposal (330 searches);
Christmas Programs (225 searches); Clothing Donation Programs (179 searches); Household Goods Donation Programs (153 searches);
Assistive Technology Equipment Loan (80 searches)

Top Agencies: Salvation Army (Rutland); Vermont State Police; Department for Children and Families – Economic Services; Capstone Community Action; City of Barre

Top Search by City: New Haven; Hancock; Whiting; Lincoln; Burlington

Total Site Visits: 3785

Unique (First-Time) Visitors: 1810



Vermont 2-1-1 · PO Box 111 · Essex Junction, VT 05453 · USA

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