United Ways of Maine, in collaboration with Youth Alternatives Ingraham, established 211 Maine, Inc. as an efficient and effective response to the growing complexities and needs in health, social economic and human services. The state of Maine has over 300 hotlines and help lines and thousands of programs offering all types of health and human services. Trying to find the right phone number or service that provides help for your specific need can be overwhelming and frustrating. Having an easy-to-remember universal number and website for non-emergency help is critical. People can call 211 to find or give help.
211 Maine is part of a national movement to centralize and streamline access to health and human service information and resources. The first 211 Call Center was initiated by United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta in 1997. Connecticut followed with a statewide system in 1998. In July 2000, the Federal Communications Commission approved 211 nationally for health and human services information and referral.
In the same year, the 10 United Ways in Maine, state agency representatives and Youth Alternatives Ingraham formed a task force. They reviewed various models and surveyed information and referral services in Maine. In March 2003, 211 Maine, Inc. was incorporated, based on a consensus model with a central call center and regional resource coordinators. Over the next 18 months, working with an Advisory Board and Provider Council, 211 Maine, Inc. focused on building a statewide database and obtaining state designation. On June 27, 2005, 211 Maine, Inc. received designation from the Maine Public Utility Commission as the “sole entity entitled to use the 211 numbering code for access to information and referral services in Maine.” This designation was re-issued in June 2008.