HHS Announces New Partnership with Mass 2-1-1 to Enhance Access for Children and Families in Need of Services
FRAMINGHAM — Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary John Polanowicz today announced a new partnership with Mass 2-1-1 that will provide enhanced information and referral services to children and families. The partnership will give families greater access to community-based services to help children who are truants, runaways or otherwise at risk of entering the criminal justice system.
“This partnership with Mass 2-1-1 will give families 24-hour access to trained professionals that can connect them with services for children who are having serious problems at home or in school,” said Secretary Polanowicz. “By investing in community-based supports and resources, we can keep more kids with their families and support networks — and out of the courts.”
The Patrick-Murray Administration is providing Mass 2-1-1 with a grant of $75,000 to support its enhanced programming. Under this partnership, Mass 2-1-1 will begin referring and analyzing community-based services to families starting April 15.
“Mass 2-1-1 and the United Way System are very excited about this new expanded partnership,” said Paul Mina, executive director of Mass 2-1-1. “Mass 2-1-1 receives thousands of calls each year related to children and families in need of help. This partnership with HHS will greatly enhance our ability to serve the people of the Commonwealth.”
Mass 2-1-1 is a statewide collaboration of local United Ways that employs information and referral specialists trained to help people access accurate information in non-emergency situations. By dialing 2-1-1, individuals and families can get connected to valuable resources at appropriate community-based organizations or government agencies. The service is available 24-hours a day, seven days a week.
Last year, Governor Deval Patrick signed “An Act Regarding Families and Children Engaged in Services,” which allows the Administration to connect families with children requiring assistance to a network of service programs and family resource centers throughout the Commonwealth. Under the law, the state will be able to collect data to evaluate the effectiveness of community-based services and identify service needs or gaps.
“With this new law, we are giving the thousands of children and families who need assistance each year a clearer path to accessing vital services and supports during their time of need,” said Senator Karen Spilka. “By directly connecting our children and families with important resources within their own communities, we are ensuring they receive help in a more timely and effective manner. Today, through this collaborative effort, we are taking a giant step forward to create healthier children, strengthen and support families, make our communities stronger and safer, and ultimately invest in the well-being of our collective future.”“The extension of the Mass 2-1-1 service through this new partnership is part of a continuing effort to be more accessible to the people in Massachusetts without them having to go through a complicated referral system between departments,” said Representative Chris Walsh. “This will give our residents who are in need of services, a better chance at getting those services that they require more effectively and quickly.”
“This is a great, innovative way to reach out to the public and provide them with an opportunity to see streamlining in health and human services,” said Representative Paul Donato. “More importantly, it demonstrates how Health and Human Services is working for the citizens of our Commonwealth.”
"Community-based services are more effective than putting a kid through the criminal justice system, so it's great that Mass 2-1-1 and the state are moving in this direction," said Representative Tom Sannicandro. "Hopefully this grant helps more kids get the supports they need to be successful."
Mass 2-1-1 also provides information and referral services for other agencies, including the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care. Visit www.mass211.org for more information.
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