SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — After the passing of Senate Bill 2, a simple number will be able to provide resources for the entire state of South Dakota.
Since 2001, the Helpline Center provided several communities with support for financial, family, mental health, or disaster-related situations. Over the years, the organization has been expanding, but after the passing of this bill, the whole state will be covered.
All 66 counties in South Dakota now have access to the Helpline Center 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. You can dial 2-1-1 to connect with a professional at the Helpline Center, or they have resources listed on their website.
Betsy Schuster is the VP of Program Development for the Helpline Center. She says staff will stay in Sioux Falls for 2-1-1, but there are ways they can localize the resources they find for you, wherever you may be.
“By dialing 2-1-1 we help drill down by asking your zip code to find the answers in your area. So, whether that be a government question about a government office, whether that be a basic needs question, a mental health question, we look to connect you with programs in your local community across the state. So, it’s so nice we can provide that service across the state,” Schuster said.
Schuster said 2-1-1 has slowly expanded over the years which helped create a network of support to go statewide.
“Since the very beginning, it’s always been a goal to go statewide, there’s just a lot of logistics, and a lot of education, and a lot of meetings and stakeholders to get on board. Over the years, we continued to build that base, and then we’re just very honored and grateful for the South Dakota legislation to pass Senate Bill 2 which made it a reality this year,” Schuster said.
And it’s important to note, the 2-1-1 hotline is open for more than just basic social needs.
“There’s a misperception that 2-1-1 is only if you need a basic social needs service, and really it’s for all of us. We’re all going to have a time when we have a question. It might be a simple question like ‘is the driver’s license offices open again, how’s that working?’ or, ‘I lost my job due to COVID I need some help with rent, I need some help with food, what resources are available?’ So, I think more than ever launching 2-1-1 during a pandemic statewide we never imagined this is what it would be when we got statewide, but I think more than ever it showed the importance of why we need statewide access because every single one of us has been impacted one way or another and we’re just humbled and honored to be here 24/7 to provide that empathy and support and those connections to local resources to assist with what their needs are,” Schuster said.