In the early 1970’s, the information and referral network established the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS) to create national standards, share information, and promote professionalism in the field of Information & Referral.

Today, AIRS is a professional membership association of a diverse group of organizations across the United States and Canada with more than 1,200 organizations, supporting 28 state and regional affiliates that bring people and services together.

AIRS administers the accreditation and certification programs, provides training, support and technical assistance and offers an annual conference for professionals in the field.

AIRS Standards

In 1983, AIRS, in conjunction with the United Way of America, adopted National Standards for Information and Referral. The Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS) has developed standards that serve as the foundation for I&R services.

The standards ensure that information and referral services are broadly available and effectively delivered. The standards define expected practices in the field and provide guidelines that help an I&R program meet the needs of the people in local communities.

Learn more about the AIRS Standards on the AIRS web site.


AIRS developed the accreditation process to assess the ability of an I&R program to demonstrate compliance with the AIRS Standards. Accreditation is a multi-phase process that assesses an I&R’s operational components and affirms the program’s excellence. In Ohio, 2-1-1 Call Centers must achieve AIRS accreditation in order to retain their 2-1-1 designation.

Learn more about the Accreditation process on the AIRS web site.

I&R Specialists

An I & R specialist is a guide to the often complex system of human services and can assist people in understanding how that system works, particularly in how to access services. I & R specialists utilize skillful questioning and active listening with empathy, support, and guidance to help people make thoughtful and informed decisions. They help identify the services most appropriate to the person’s needs, discuss pros and cons of various options, and provide education about how to obtain the needed services.


AIRS has established a professional credentialing program for I&R specialists. Certification is a measurement of knowledge in the field of I&R, that captures the skills, attitudes and work related behaviors needed by I&R practitioners. Certification is available for three specializations:

  • CIRS Certification for I&R Specialists
  • CIRS-A Certification for I&R Specialists in Aging
  • CRS Certification for Resource Specialists

Certification requires successful passage of the appropriate certification exam.

To learn more about the AIRS certification, visit the AIRS web site.

Resource Databases

To provide a wide variety of choices, information and referral services maintain comprehensive databases of social, community, and government services within a service area. Examples of these services include health screenings, flu shots, childcare, emergency assistance, counseling, legal assistance, housing, and food pantries. The I&R service’s community resource database is a critical part of service delivery and is updated regularly as information changes.

In 1983, a classification system called the AIRS/211 LA County Taxonomy was created to meet the need to organize information about community resources in a consistent and logical manner. The taxonomy provides a conceptual framework for approaching human services, provides a common ground for I&R services wanting to share information about the availability of human services and gaps in services, and provides a common language that bridges the gap between disciplines. The AIRS/Infoline Taxonomy is the standard for indexing and accessing human services resource databases.

To learn more about the AIRS/ 211 LA County Taxonomy, visit the AIRS web site or the Taxonomy web site.

Download the AIRS Style Guide