|Official Press Release
Contact: Jim Jones
Date: April 2, 2008
Military families a focus
RALEIGH – CARE-LINE, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Service’s toll-free telephone information and referral help line, is now providing 24/7 service. The switch coincides with startup of increased efforts to assist military personnel returning from combat and their families and went into effect April 1.
With thousands of active duty, Reserve and National Guard service men and women and their families affected by combat deployments, North Carolina is taking the lead in connecting those families with the services they need. Expansion of the CARE-LINE’s hours is in response to needs identified through the state’s Returning Support for Veterans Program (RSVP).
“This fills a very important gap in the provision of services to so many of our citizens,” said DHHS Secretary Dempsey Benton. “Many of them have endured rough times and some continue to face difficulties and challenges. Our service members and their families have been there for us and we want to be sure that we are here for them.”
The N.C. Legislature appropriated funding for additional staff positions for CARE-LINE to accommodate the expansion of services and hours. Since March 2007, the CARE-LINE has been offering information to returning veterans during regular 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. business hours. Now those referrals are available around-the-clock.
“This is a huge step forward for the CARE-LINE in our ability to enhance our services to the citizens of North Carolina,” said Melodee Stokes, director of the N.C Office of Citizen Services, which hosts the CARE-LINE. “Switching CARE-LINE to a twenty-four hour operation will enable us to significantly increase the number of families we assist. Our trained staff will be at work, day and night, to provide assistance and helpful contacts to callers from anywhere in North Carolina.”
Stokes notes an increase in the number of calls to CARE-LINE over the past few years. By 2004, calls to the CARE-LINE exceeded 100,000 and in each of the past two years, the volume of inquiries reaching the CARE-LINE has hit nearly 200,000. Topics that most concern callers are related to Medicaid, food stamps, emergency assistance programs and medication assistance.
“Many callers have difficulty finding the time to reach us during normal business hours. This truly makes us more accessible to the citizens who need our help and who appreciate finding a human on the other end of the line.”
The expanded hours of service for the call-in line are complemented by NCcareLINK (nccarelink.gov/), the Internet-based information and referral service provided through a partnership of DHHS and local governments and nonprofits across the state.
Callers may reach the CARE-LINE by dialing 1-800-662-7030 (English/Spanish) or 1-877-452-2514 (TTY). For callers in the Raleigh area, dial 855-4400 (English/Spanish), or 919 733-4851 (TTY).
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