Help is Here: Screening & Information Specialist

Brief Overview:

We are seeking a full-time Screening Information Specialists (SIS) for the IDHS Help is Here helpline to answer inquiries and provide referrals regarding housing and rental assistance.

Position Description:

HRiA operates three state-wide Helplines focused on increasing access to SUD treatment & decreasing related fatalities by offering free and confidential information & referral services. The Massachusetts Substance Use Helpline (MA Helpline) has been in operation for over 20 years, while The Illinois Helpline for Opioids and Other Substances (IL Helpline) is a newer project that was launched in December 2017. Furthermore, we launched the Vermont Helplink (VT Helplink) in January 2020. All the Helplines are committed to linking consumers with comprehensive, accurate, and current information about substance use disorder treatment, prevention, and recovery services in their area. Since the IL Helpline & the VT Helplink are newer projects, we are continuously rolling out enhancements to meet the needs of both Illinois and Vermont residents as well as to build awareness of our innovative services. We also anticipate continued growth and as such have developed the capacity to hire new Screening & Information Specialist (SIS) team members who serve as the heart of our contact center.

In March of 2020, the Illinois Helpline for Opioids and Other Substances expanded services by establishing additional menu options to support consumers needing to connect with Illinois Division of Human Services (IDHS) resources. The IDHS Help is Here Helpline offers callers access to the IL Helpline for Opioids and Other Substances, Application for Benefits Eligibility (ABE) call center, Medicaid, housing resources, and more.

The Helpline contact center is the hub for the Massachusetts Substance Use Helpline, the Illinois Helpline for Opioids and Other Substances, the Vermont Helplink, and the new IDHS Help is Here Helpline. Screening and Information Specialists (SIS) comprise most of the contact center team and respond to incoming inquiries from people in each state, via phone, chat, or text. Contact Center Supervisors and Masters-level Clinicians supervise a portion of the SIS, implement follow-up services, and provide additional coverage and supervisory support. Managing contact center activities and providing additional supervision are two Managers of Helplines Services. There are two Helpline Project Managers, one overseeing the IL Helpline project, and the other overseeing the MA and VT Helplines. Additional Helpline team members deliver and support program operations, marketing and communication, web management, and data analysis and management. The larger team is overseen by the Director of Substance Use Services.

For more information about the organization and projects, visit:

The SIS must be able to establish rapport with a range of consumers who are in search of housing resources, rental assistance, and/or emergency shelter via the phone, text, and online chat, elicit relevant information to accurately assess needs, gather and record data, provide referrals to appropriate services, and support consumers by encouraging them to follow through with accessing the referred services.

SIS are responsible for responding to incoming calls, online chat, and SMS text messages from individuals seeking information and assistance regarding rental assistance, accessing housing services and/or emergency shelter for themselves, a family member or friend, and/or a client. SIS are responsible for assessing Helpline users’ needs, determining the most appropriate resource options, identifying available options (through the Helplines’ databases and other approved resources), and referring callers to those services.  The SIS provide accurate information, education, support, and referrals in a non-judgmental, respectful, and culturally aware manner. SIS may also assist with other Help is Here Helpline projects and duties as needed or available. This is a full-time, hourly, non-exempt position.

Duties and Responsibilities:

Project Work (85%)

  • Assess the needs of Helpline consumers by telephone, online chat, and SMS texting.
  • Provide appropriate information and referrals to supportive housing, emergency shelter, rental assistance, legal and other related services.
  • Reliably staff the Helpline as scheduled.
  • Engage and motivate users to follow through on referrals through use of active listening and motivational interviewing techniques.
  • Obtain feedback on interactions with Helpline users.
  • Provide service availability information and other provider details through approved sources.
  • Gather and record data from consumers in Helpline data system.
  • Escalate consumers interactions to Helpline supervisor or other colleagues when applicable.

Thought Leadership (5%)

  • Continue to build and develop expertise in housing and related services
  • Suggest ideas/improvements through participation in teams and committees
  • Consistently attend and actively participate in Helpline meetings and other activities to develop skills and make suggestions for project enhancements.

Management (5%)

  • Participate in hiring processes for new Helpline staff as needed.
  • Assist in the training and mentoring of Helpline staff as needed.

New Business Development (5%)

  • Maintain updated resume and bio for use in new business proposals
  • Assist with technical components of new business proposals as needed

Candidate Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, Social Work, Human Services, or related field, or 3-5 years of related experience in lieu of a bachelor’s degree.
  • Certified Resource Specialist (through AIRS) preferred or willingness to obtain within one year of hire.
  • Experience in information and referral services, customer service, supportive housing, or human services required. Experience working with individuals or families experiencing homelessness or housing instability is a plus.
  • Ability to adapt to changes in work environment and expectations.
  • Customer/consumer focused with excellent interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Good computer skills and experience and/or ability to use online systems and databases.
  • Openness to information that may be different from personal views.
  • Willingness to work with consumers who may be ambivalent, impaired, or have psychological disorders.
  • Must be respectful of cultural differences and value diversity of thought, backgrounds, and perspectives.
  • Must have high ethical standards and a willingness to comply with professional expectations.
  • Demonstrated history of dependability needed.
  • Two years of sobriety requested for people in recovery.

Hours for the full-time position are Monday-Friday 8am-5pm.

This description is intended to indicate the kinds of work duties that will be required in this position. It is not intended to limit, or in any way modify, the rights of any supervisor to assign, direct, and contract work of staff under his/her supervision. The use of a particular illustration describing duties shall not be held to exclude other duties, not mentioned, that are of a similar level or difficulty.

How to Apply:

HRiA is actively seeking to build a diverse and experienced staff. HRiA encourages multiple perspectives and experiences, supports a multicultural environment, and strives to hire and retain a diverse work force that reflects the populations we work with and the communities where we work. Diversity is a core value of HRiA resulting in culturally competent services, materials, resources, and programs. Our hiring and business practices appreciate the strengths offered through different backgrounds.

Health Resources in Action offers an attractive benefits package, including medical, dental and life insurance, retirement plan, tax-deferred annuity, and generous vacation.

To apply, submit your resume, cover letter, and hourly salary requirements online.

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