Centers for Independent Living, or commonly referred to as CILS, are non-profit, community based non-residential organizations that are run by and for people with disabilities. CILS aren't places where people live. Instead, they are centers of action and coalition. CILS work toward empowering people to take charge of their own lifestyles. CILS provide services which promote leadership, empowerment, independence, and productivity of people with individuals. CILS work with individuals as well as with the community to remove barriers to independence.
How are Centers for Independent Living funded?
CILS are non-profit organizations, which are funded by state, federal, local and private dollars. Part C of Title VII of the Federal Rehabilitation Act provides general operations money for CILs in Virginia in the amount of over $1.5 million dollars. Additional funds under Title VII, Part B of the Act are granted to Centers under the State Plan for Independent Living. The Plan, which is jointly developed and signed by the Statewide Independent Living Council, the Department of Rehabilitative Services and Department of the Blind and Vision Impaired, provides Part B funds to Centers for systems change activities in the amount of over $475,000. General fund dollars for Center operations and Youth Transition Services currently exceed $4.7 million dollars. A portion of the State General Fund dollars were used to expand Centers for Independent Living during the last five years. Six new consumer based Centers were established during this time period. Centers also solicit local and private funding to meet service needs which have been identified at the local level.
Who do Centers serve?
Centers provide services to individuals with significant disabilities as well as to the local community at large. Core services to individuals, provided by all Centers include Information and Referral, Peer Counseling, Independent Living Skills Training, and Individual and Systems Change Advocacy. Services to the community include disability awareness, technical assistance regarding accessibility and legal issues, as well as general disability related information. In Fiscal Year 2002 the Centers provided comprehensive services to over 7,800 consumers and provided local communities with over 18,600 hours of Systems Advocacy and Community Education.
How are Centers created?
Centers for Independent Living are created through the efforts of local people with disabilities, their family members, friends, and other interested persons. As people become organized, they begin to assess the local needs, level of local interest and support for a Center. Successful establishment of a Center for Independent Living often depends on networking, personal involvement, coalition building, and a commitment to the empowerment of persons with disabilities.
How do young adults with disabilities find the necessary support and assistance to be able
to live independently in their community?
CILS are a great resource for young adults with disabilities striving to maintain their independence. CILS offer a wide spectrum of services from providing assistance locating and affording accessible housing, peer counseling services, and life skills training courses such as cooking, transportation, managing a budget, and many more useful skills.