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SD 2-1-1 Helpline Seeks Expansion

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People in need of services, such as financial help, health resources or counseling might not know where to turn, but every state in the nation offers 2-1-1, a community resources Helpline.

South Dakota provides this service, but only to limited areas in the state, where as Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska have full coverage statewide, a goal South Dakota wants to reach.

2-1-1 is available 24-hours-a-day, all yearlong for people in 10 counties in South Dakota.

People call this number if they're in need of help, food, shelter, or in a disaster situation.

"Whenever they're struggling, hurting or need information," said Janet Kittams-Lalley, Executive Director.

Janet Kittams-Lalley, executive director at the Helpline Center said 2-1-1 in South Dakota answers just under 50,000 phone calls a year.

Kittams-Lalley said she has bigger goals, to reach South Dakotans throughout the entire state, which would require additional funding.

"The cost to make 2-1-1 statewide is $500,000.00 in addition to what we already have for funding and that's primarily to cover staffing costs, that's our highest expense," said Kittams-Lalley.

Staff members such as Alissa Lennon, who said she enjoys connecting people to resources in the community.

"People don't know where to turn when they're down on their luck, or whether they're in crisis, or they just need help clothing and feeding their children," said Lennon.

2-1-1's data base covers nearly 10,000 resources, including critical help during natural disasters, such as fire season in the Black Hills.

The Executive Director said she's been working to get the word out to people interested and state Legislators to educate them on the importance of 2-1-1 for South Dakotans.

"You never know when you're going to need help with basic needs, when your neighbor is going to need help or when a family member is going to need help," said Kittams-Lalley.

Right now 2-1-1 covers 40% of the state and with additional funding, that coverage area could expand to 100%.

The 2-1-1 Helpline operates now on funding from United Way and city government in the Sioux Falls and Black hills area.
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