NoVA Information and Referral History

The Northern Virginia Regional Commission, then the Northern Virginia Planning District Commission (NVPDC), was a key player in developing the regional I&R network in the 1970s. The network was an independent cooperative effort among Northern Virginia local welfare offices and the local I&R offices.

In 1974 these groups began to develop a regional system for collecting and maintaining information on local human services and taking telephone calls to provide referrals to the public. A classification system and a protocol for the provision of I&R in the region were developed. The operating assumption was that direct delivery of I&R services was best located in each jurisdiction.

It was also determined that a centralized regional database was more efficient and cost effective to create and maintain than separate data collection efforts in each jurisdiction. Thus NVPDC created and maintained a database of service providers in the region and made it available to the cooperating jurisdictions in a variety of formats. The contents of that database, now maintained and updated by CrisisLink as part of 2-1-1 VIRGINIA, can be found on two websites: Answers, Please! 2-1-1 or 2-1-1 Virginia.

By 1980, the Virginia General Assembly had created the Statewide Human Services Information and Referral System, coordinated and funded through the Virginia Department of Social Services. NVPDC received funding to partially support maintenance of the database and regional coordination. NVRC has continued to support local I&R services through a Work Group that meets regularly after almost 30 years.

The advent of 2-1-1 services, free 3-digit dialing to reach an I&R service, transformed the Statewide Human Services Information and Referral System into 2-1-1 VIRGINIA.  In 2007, the Virginia Department of Social Services and its prime contractor selected CrisisLink, one of the members of the Northern Virginia I&R Network, as the new regional 2-1-1 VIRGINIA center. The other Work Group members continue to serve their local jurisdictions as specialized I&R services during regular business hours.

CrisisLink is a regional nonprofit with a dual mission of crisis mitigation and information and referral. CrisisLink operates several hotlines and other support systems for those facing life crises, trauma, and suicide; it also provides information, referral and links to community resources; and community education programs. CrisisLink has assumed responsibility for maintaining the Northern Virginia portion of the 2-1-1 VIRGINIA database, serving as the Virginia representatives to the Greater Washington 2-1-1 Work Group, and staff to the Northern Virginia I&R Work Group.

Northern Virginia Quick Guide
NVRC continues to produce the Quick Guide, an annual mini-directory of human services for Northern Virginia as well as an Quick Guide Online that is updated throughout the year.

The Quick Guide is often referred to as the Human Services Bible and is by far the most requested publication of the Northern Virginia Regional Commission. It lists over 200 topics of the most frequently used organizations offering services. It includes the numbers of local information and referral services and those serving the rest of Virginia and other parts of the National Capital area. More than 15,000 copies are distributed annually to social workers, guidance counselors, mental health counselors, law enforcement personnel and local nonprofit organizations. Obtain your copy directly for a modest cost.

The searchable online version was originally funded 1998 by the Northern Virginia Career Connect project using U.S. Department of Labor One-Stop funds.