Funds will expand capacity for statewide health and human services hotline
United Way organizations across the Commonwealth have successfully advocated for $1M in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to expand capacity for Mass211, a statewide hotline that provides Massachusetts residents with life-sustaining resources and information. State Senator Jamie Eldridge and State Representative Jack Patrick Lewis sponsored and championed the amendment to secure funding for Mass211.
"At all times, but especially at times like this, we need to support our most vulnerable residents. Mass211 offers a critical and inclusive helpline to those who need it the most, referring residents to vital resources around the state. I am very proud to have secured this funding for this hotline and I look forward to seeing the incredible work at United Way grow," said State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton).
“It was an honor to work with colleagues to secure this vital funding in the ARPA bill. Mass211 provides such an important, life-changing, life-saving benefit to our communities, especially during this pandemic,” said State Representative Jack Patrick Lewis (D-Framingham).
Mass211 connects residents across the Commonwealth’s 351 municipalities to mental health services, vaccine and testing appointments, rental assistance, childcare, and other services. The call center is accessible 24/7 in more than 150 languages.
“All of us at Mass211/Call 2 Talk are excited about the opportunity to address the growing need for behavioral health and addiction treatment services that have been exacerbated by the impacts of the pandemic,” said Paul Mina, Executive Director of Mass211 and President & CEO of United Way of Tri-County and United Way of Pioneer Valley. “We’re grateful for the leadership of Senator Eldridge and Representative Lewis and for the trust this support represents.”
Mass211 has emerged as a critical lifeline during the COVID-19 crisis. During the past year, Mass211 has fielded over 490,000 calls from residents in all 351 municipalities - a 124% increase in call volume compared to the previous year. Importantly, 48% of callers' requests were directly related to COVID-19, and over 25% of calls were related to mental health needs. The additional ARPA funding will expand capacity, supporting staffing, training and equipment needs.
“We know our residents need even more support as a result of the pandemic, so we are pleased to see that our joint effort to secure ARPA funding for Mass211 was successful. We consider Mass211 a partner in supporting our children and families in Berkshire County, and look forward to seeing the expansion of services, especially for mental health,” said Laurie Gallagher, Interim President and CEO of Berkshire United Way.
“COVID-19 has exacerbated inequities in our community, increasing the need for immediate access to information and essential life services for our most vulnerable residents,” said Bob Giannino, President and Chief Executive Officer at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. “ARPA funds provide us with the opportunity to invest further in critical systems that serve those disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. We appreciate the Legislature’s support and Governor Baker’s approval of this funding, which will allow us to scale up services to reach more residents and families.”
United Way organizations signing on to this request with Mass211 include Acton-Boxborough United Way, Berkshire United Way, Cape & Islands United Way, United Way of Central Massachusetts, United Way of the Franklin & Hampshire Region, United Way of Greater Fall River, United Way of Greater New Bedford, United Way of Greater Plymouth County, United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, Northern Berkshire United Way, United Way of North Central Massachusetts, United Way of Pioneer Valley, United Way of South Central Massachusetts, and Tri-County United Way.
Founded in 2006 and funded by United Ways across Massachusetts, Mass211 is available at no cost to all Commonwealth residents by dialing 2-1-1.