Charlotte County is testing out a new on-line search interface for information about social services.

The county has provided a human-powered version of this service since 2006 by staffing a 2-1-1 call center. Anyone can call the 2-1-1 number and ask about social services ranging from veterans services to addiction services to volunteer options to emergency preparedness.

Earlier this year, the county fired up a new software application for people who like to ask questions of a database, and it’s very friendly for mobile devices. It’s at www.charlotte211.com.

Colleen Turner, senior manager for the county’s Human Services department, said the county decided to make the interface available online, even though it may not provide perfect answers yet. For example, she said, if you click on the “substance abuse and mental health” button, you may get a list that includes agencies that do not actually provide that service.

“It is still under development, as we are working to make sure all provider information is current, and that they turn up in the appropriate keyword searches and common search tabs,” Turner told the Sun.

To keep the database current, the software allows social service agencies to update their own information. County staff members review the requested updates within one business day.

Users can print, email or text results to themselves or someone else.

“It’s pretty awesome,” Turner said, “and will only get better as we make the necessary edits to streamline search results.”

For anyone using the actual phone, dial 211 or 941-205-2161 if you are using a TTY or if you are outside of Charlotte County. You may get the 2-1-1 services of another region.


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