Senate Bill 2 could bring 211 helpline statewide

Published: Feb. 25, 2020 at 4:12 PM CST
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A bill in Pierre could make getting help as easy as picking up the phone.

Senate Bill 2 is proposing a statewide resource system to help with disasters and other related needs.

The bill asks the Department of Social Services to fully support a statewide centralized resource information system.

The 211 Helpline Center is only one phone call away to help with suicide prevention, mental illnesses, disaster relief, and many other obstacles people face every day.

Helpline Center CEO Janet Kittams said, “So, 2-1-1 is that critical point of contact for the general public to find out information about the disaster response and to report damage. To get access to resources, and really just to have somebody to connect with.”

Right now, 211 is available to 75% of South Dakota’s population, but Senate Bill 2 would change that.

Kittams said, “Senate Bill 2 would fully fund the cost of statewide 211. Right now, we have the 211 phone number activated in 34 counties out of the 66 in South Dakota, so this bill would allow for all the counties to have access to 211.”

Sioux Falls Senator Jim Stalzer is a sponsor on the bill and says a three-digit number makes calling for help easier.

“It’s much easier to remember 2-1-1 than it is 1-800 something, something, something,” Stalzer said.

No matter what part of South Dakota you call home, the Helpline Center can help you find help.

Kittams said, “There are 4,000 resources that we have in our database. When we are talking to somebody, wherever they are in South Dakota, we can find the resources in their area and get them connected with those local resources.”

Stalzer added, “Some of these rural areas you just don’t know who to go to, and they keep a list of those 4,000 organizations willing to provide help if somebody just knows enough to call them. If we do get 2-1-1, they’ll be able to advertise that statewide.”