Friday, April 10, 2009

Email regarding 2-1-1

Got this in email, and felt like I needed to respond:
The 211 information and referral option (option 1) actually works quite
well. That option has nothing to do with food stamps but gets a really bad
rap from frustrations like yours. I really don't mind your expressions of
frustration over the TIERS portion, but when you mention 211 in one lump
with TIERS, you are dragging the hard won, good work of 211 down with
misinformation. Dial 211 from Anywhere in the state, choose option 1 and ask
the call specialist to explain the difference. The option 1 folks are
wonderful and make a huge positive difference in peoples lives! They are NOT
for profit vendors. They work 24 hours a day, and they answer 80 percent of
their calls in 60 seconds or less.
To the writer, I'm not talking about the referral service.  I'm talking about the componet of 2-1-1 that handles our client calls.  They are given mis-information, and because they are not state employees and do not know policy- it's next to IMPOSSIBLE to give correct information.  What is equally frustrating is the relationship between them and the local office staff.  Let me give you an example- let's say I interview a client in TIERS.  My case comments have my NAME, MY DIRECT PHONE NUMBER and all the information from the interview.  Because my notices don't print my name, if the client has a question, they call 2-1-1.  Instead of referring that client BACK TO ME personally, the LOCAL worker, they try to answer the question (or verify that information has or has not been turned in- true story:  had a client sent in checkstubs- when scanned, they weren't readable.  Client calls 2-1-1 and is told that information has been received- I try to contact client to ask them to bring checkstubs to LOCAL OFFICE for me, since they were not readable, can't reach client- I leave COMMENTS to that affect.....operator still tells client info there, case should be completed- had to DENY case- all the operator had to do is REFER *MY* CLIENT TO *ME*, but did not)...when you do have the operator refer client to office, they tell them they do not know who the worker is (remember, my NAME is there!) and give them main office number.
That's not client service, no matter how you slice it.
So again, yes- the information and referral service is fabulous.  It is.  Much better updated information than "we" have...but the other side of it?  NOT at all.

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