FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 22, 2020
PORTLAND, Maine — GovWebworks has recently helped develop two important resources to provide assistance during the Covid-19 pandemic, 211 Maine and StrengthenME.
In response to growing need, GovWebworks partnered with 211 Maine and United Ways of Maine to make it easier to find help via the 211maine.org website. Resources on the site include support for food, shelter, health care, mental health, child welfare, and Covid-19 issues. During this time of increased call volume and website visits, 211 Maine partnered with GovWebworks to make assistance easier to find online.
Nationally, many 211 websites suffer from insufficient or outdated information, inaccurate search capabilities, and poor navigation. During this time of increased call volume and website visits (up from 4,572 to 11,259 average monthly page views in Maine during the pandemic), 211 Maine sought to make assistance easier to find online. GovWebworks signed a contract with United Way, the 211 Maine administrator, in November 2019 to begin updates on the site.
“As it turns out, the work couldn’t have begun at a more important time,” says Tom Lovering, Director of Client Engagement at GovWebworks. When 211 Maine began receiving increased calls for help during the pandemic, GovWebworks was able to prioritize the 211 project for quicker delivery. 211 Maine can now promote the website with confidence that users will be able to find the information they seek.
In conjunction with the 211 Maine search, GovWebworks also worked with the Maine Office of Behavioral Health to develop the StrengthenME.com website, which provides free anxiety management and resiliency resources for people in Maine experiencing stress reactions from the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The StrengthenME program is an initiative of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, funded by a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to support recovery in the wake of a disaster. The COVID-19 pandemic represents the first time a pandemic has been declared a federal disaster.
GovWebworks quickly deployed a new StrengthenME site that leverages the existing 211 search enhancements to help connect individuals seeking services or otherwise in need. The site is being launched with a media outreach campaign aimed at educating Mainers about available resources and how to connect with them.
“The stress of the global pandemic at the local level – on individuals, families, and communities is real,” said DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew in the Maine DHHS press release. “StrengthenME is here for you.”
Both the 211 Maine and StrengthenME sites employ plain language and have a friendly and modern look and feel to make content more easily and quickly accessible. The 211 Maine search gives site visitors the ability to filter services through a guided process, and the “I Need” statement dropdown and a geolocation feature optimizes searches to make them as useful as possible.
“There is a stigma around asking for help,” 211 Maine’s Program Manager Nikki Busmanis says. “For people who find themselves in need of help and have a hard time asking, the web is so important.”
GovWebworks is the primary brand of Portland Webworks, a software development firm in Portland, Maine, and part of the national movement to improve digital government services. The mission to increase online access to social benefits is especially prescient during the current crisis, with the dramatic increase in remote requests for help. Giving people the ability to easily find and apply for services online, instead of visiting a physical location, can make all the difference.
Aligning with organizations like Code for America (CfA), U.S. Digital Service, and 18F, GovWebworks is a sponsor of the local CfA brigade, OpenMaine.
Some of GovWebworks’ other projects include:
- Modernizing online child support software for Idaho Department of Health and Welfare
- Innovating workforce tools for Minnesota’s CareerForce
- Improving usability for Missouri Department of Transportation and Vermont Judiciary
Founded in 1999 in Portland, Maine, Portland Webworks develops online applications for private sector companies, and GovWebworks supports public sector agencies in states including Idaho, Washington, and Minnesota, and Maine, with innovative, user-centric solutions that deliver immediate impact to citizens. For more information, visit www.govwebworks.com.
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