Frequently Asked Questions


What is 2-1-1?


2-1-1 is an easy to remember, three digit telephone number that connects people with important community services to meet everyday needs and the immediate needs of people in crisis. It is a resource for finding assistance in your local community and can offer access to:

  • Affordable high quality child care/after-school care
  • Counseling and support groups
  • Health services
  • Food, clothing, and housing
  • Services for seniors and the disabled

2-1-1 is available statewide for Child Care Resources and Referral, Disaster and Relief, H1N1 information and DSS. South Carolina's 2-1-1 currently covers 64% of the population for Information and Referral 24 hours of the day.  2-1-1 in South Carolina covers 21 counties through three call centers located around South Carolina. The Columbia call center covers Anderson, Calhoun, Chester, Clarendon, Fairfield, Greenville, Lancaster, Lee, Lexington, Newberry, Orangeburg, Richland, Sumter and York Counties. The Trident call center covers Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester Counties. The Aiken call center covers Aiken, Edgefield, Oconee and Pickens Counties.


How is United Way involved with 2-1-1?
United Ways have a long-standing commitment to funding information and referral (I&R) services in their communities.  As a result of this commitment, in 2000, United Way of Association of South Carolina began exploring the possibilities of a 2-1-1 system.  A 2-1-1 task force submitted an application to the Budget and Control Board for designation of the three-digit number to be used for health and human service information, referral, and volunteer opportunities.  The Budget and Control Board designated United Way Association of South Carolina as the “holder” of the 2-1-1 number.  In 2000, United Way of America was designated as the national holder of the 2-1-1 number.  United Ways in South Carolina host the 2-1-1 service and provide the information on local resources used to connect callers and meet their needs.

How does 2-1-1 work?
Callers simply dial 2-1-1 for information on vital local services.  2-1-1 is free, confidential, available 24 hours a day -- everyday, multilingual and staffed by agents ready to help you find the connection you need.

How can I reach 2-1-1 from my cell phone?
If you call from a mobile/cell phone, you will need to use the toll-free number of 1-866-892-9211.

How can I reach 2-1-1 from work?
If you call from work and cannot reach 2-1-1, try using the toll-free number (1-866-892-9211).  Then ask the person in charge of your phone system to program the 2-1-1 number into your PBX system.

What is an I&R?
Information and Referral (I&R) is the practice of bringing people and services together. When individuals, families and communities don't know where to turn, I&R is there for them.

There are thousands of I&R service agencies operated by non-profit and government organizations throughout the United States. These I&R services answer millions of calls annually. I&R services are responsible for connecting callers with opportunities to get and give help through more than 1.6 million health and human service providers, government agencies, and community-based service organizations in the United States.

I&R agencies maintain comprehensive databases of resources including federal, state, and local government agencies, private non-profit agencies, faith and community based organizations, schools, libraries and neighborhood and civic organizations. The comprehensive I&R agency often maintains this data for the specialized centers in the community and makes it available on the Internet, in other electronic forms, and through paper directories and handbooks.

I&R specialists are skilled professionals. They assess callers' needs and help the caller determine their options and the best course of action in a non-threatening, non-judgmental and confidential manner. Additionally, I&R specialists are trained to determine whether a caller may be eligible for other programs, to intervene in crisis situations, and to advocate on behalf of the caller who may need additional assistance.

What is the difference between 911, 311, 411, etc.?
Among abbreviated dialing arrangements, "N11" codes are three-digit codes of which the first digit can be any digit other than 1 or 0, and the last two digits are both one. There are only eight possible N11 codes, making N11 codes among the scarcest of numbering resources. Following are the existing N11 code assignments:

  • 2-1-1: Assigned for community information and referral services
  • 3-1-1: Assigned nationwide for non-emergency police and other government services
  • 4-1-1: Unassigned, but used virtually nationwide by carriers for directory assistance
  • 5-1-1: Assigned for traffic and transportation information
  • 6-1-1: Unassigned, but used broadly by carriers for repair service
  • 7-1-1: Assigned nationwide for access to Telecom Relay Services
  • 8-1-1: Unassigned, but used by local exchanged carriers for business office use
  • 9-1-1: Unassigned, but used nationwide for emergency services