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The Cost Savings of 2-1-1

A national cost benefit analysis conducted by the University of Texas estimates a net value to society of a national 2-1-1 system approaching $130 million in the first year alone and a conservative estimate of $1.1 billion over ten years. The analysis is based largely on the data of eleven 2-1-1 centers in the following areas: Hawaii; Idaho; Connecticut; Houston, TX; Twin Cities, MN; Salt Lake City, UT; Albuquerque, NM; Grand Rapids, MI; Atlanta, GA; Sioux Falls, SD; and Jacksonville, FL. 

Cost Saving Examples for Taxpayers, Employers and Government

  • Time saved for individuals and families through a one-stop call center for a variety of services
  • Decreased need for public assistance because of timely connection with appropriate intervening services
  • Reduction in non-emergency calls to 9-1-1
  • Reduction in the number of 1-800 numbers funded by government
  • Enhanced tax assistance and recovery, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit
  • Volunteer recruitment for non-profits and ability for government to mobilize volunteers in times of crisis
  • Savings for business through reduced absenteeism and increased productivity due to enhanced information on where employees can find services
  • Planning information for cities and counties informed by the data collection of call volume and referrals for a comprehensive array of services
  • A broad communication network for public dissemination of information about changes in federal, state and local programs
  • Cost avoidance for state and local government of misdirected calls for services
  • 24 hour a day, 7 days a week service
  • Ability to disseminate public health and crisis preparedness information

The benefits of 2-1-1 systems increase over time as new, innovative uses are employed for the number. For example, Connecticut's statewide 2-1-1 system manages the State of Connecticut's QuitLine, a tobacco use cessation hotline. To implement the service, Connecticut 2-1-1 hired one program manager and trained 2-1-1 call specialists on how to handle QuitLine-specific calls. It is estimated that without the 2-1-1 partnership, the state would have needed to establish a call center and hire five to seven people to handle the calls.

Other Key Findings of the University of Texas Study

The research found that the viability of maintaining and expanding a high quality, national 2-1-1 network is dependent on the infusion of additional funds to sustain the current operations and expand the current system. 

The study also determined that the national 2-1-1 effort is ripe for enhanced public/private sector collaboration. There is greater opportunity to maximize resources as the 2-1-1 call centers, and the public and non-profit agencies to which they make referrals, recognize the complementary features of their service delivery systems.

Finally, 93% of the users surveyed by the University of Texas indicated they found the information they sought with ease, and 97% said they would call 2-1-1 again.

View this study.