Lawmakers To Review 211 Program Funding
January 9, 2015 — An Indiana phone program that helps connect Hoosiers with essential services will be asking for state support this legislative session. Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Jill Sheridan reports.
INDIANAPOLIS – If a bill unveiled Thursday by a bipartisan contingent of legislators becomes law, the philanthropic sector – including emergency services such as Indiana 211 – could receive funding from the state.
Rep. Jud McMillin, R-Brookville, announced during a press conference that he plans to sponsor a bill that would provide money from the state to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, which would then be distributed to select charitable services.
Indiana 211 is a nonprofit hotline service providing information and referral help for individuals and families dealing with issues regarding health care, domestic abuse, elderly assistance, disaster relief, veterans services, or infant children. It is primarily funded by public and private donations and does not currently receive state funding.
The press conference featured presentations from other philanthropic organizations as well, including the United Way of Indiana and The Glick Fund.
Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, will sponsor the proposed legislation in the Senate and said Thursday that he supports the bill because he has a “passion for compassion.”
The bill to help fund 211 and other charities is intended to spread the knowledge of the statewide hotline program and the help it provides to those who need it and are unaware of it.
Rep. Greg Porter, D-Indianapolis, said “211 is very crucial” and affects “all Hoosiers,” explaining that it provides information and a safe haven to people in need.
Kimberley Williams, one of many people who have found help through the 211 service, had been in need of help as a single mother of four children. There were times she struggled to pay bills, feed her children, and to afford clothing for her children, she said.
Williams used the 211 hotline, which immediately directed her to pantries for help with food and churches that helped her clothe her kids. She now works for 211 and spoke Thursday concerning the importance of the organization and its need for funding.
Ryan Brady, a representative of The Glick Fund – one of the main backers of the 211 program – spoke at the conference to urge the legislature to approve the proposed funding. Brady said that “211 makes sense” and it is a “cost effective way to deliver information.”
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller also showed his support for the legislation, saying 211 serves as “the link from the citizens of Indiana to the vital social net in our system.” He also said the organization deserves more than a “thank you” from the state government.