Questions & Answers
What is a Center for Independent Living (CIL)?
Centers for Independent Living are community-based, cross-disability, non-profit organizations that are designed and operated by people with disabilities. CILs are unique in that they operate according to a strict philosophy of consumer control, wherein people with all types of disabilities directly govern and staff the organization.
What is Independent Living?
Independent Living is a philosophy which states that people with disabilities should have the same civil rights, choices and control as do people without disabilities.
Independent Living is about Choice!
- The independent living movement promotes full participation, inclusion and self-sufficiency in the community for people with disabilities.
- The independent living philosophy promotes management of one’s own life and decision-making, leading to self-determination and away from dependence on others.
- The independent living movement has paralleled the civil rights movement, seeking to extend the rights gained for ethnic minorities to people with disabilities.
- Individuals with disabilities should always have the power to choose what they want to do with their lives, what support services they want to take advantage of, and how those support services should be arranged.
Who does a Center for Independent Living serve?
- Centers for Independent Living serve individuals with all types of disabilities of all ages as well as their family members, caregivers, significant others, etc.
- Centers for Independent Living also serve the community at large to provide information pertinent to the needs/rights of persons with disabilities.
What services does a CILs provide?
All CILs operate independently of one another, and are responsible for developing programs to meet the varying needs of the diverse populations they serve. While there is some variation in the types of services each CIL offers, all CILs provide certain “core services” which include the following:
- – Information and Referral
CILs maintain files on resources and services available in their regions and refer persons with disabilities and other caller to appropriate vendors and providers, such as: accessible housing, transportation, personal assistants, interpreters for the deaf, employment opportunities, and legal services. Other information and referral topics may include: disability legislation, disability-specific organizations, financial benefit programs, and other social service organizations.
- – Individual and Systems Advocacy
Individual advocacy entails assisting people in circumventing barriers to full inclusion. This may involve providing support with obtaining legal and economic benefits, working toward the removal of architectural barriers, and coordination with other agencies that provide essential services. CILs also provide community (systems) advocacy, working to make changes to expand physical access, and civil and legal rights of people with disabilities.
- – Independent Living Skills Training
CILs provide instruction in areas such as money management, social skills, and interviewing techniques. Instruction in independent living skills assists individuals to develop the personal tools and self-confidence to achieve their goals.
- – Peer Support
Through interaction with others who have similar disabilities and life experiences, individuals can gain insight into strategies which have been used successfully to cope with challenges to various independent living goals. People who have recently acquired their disability or who have lived in segregated environments often benefit greatly from the support of role models.
Why Utilize the Services of the NJ Centers for Independent Living:
- Per the mandate that created them, CILs operate in their respective communities to help their Consumers operate in those communities as effectively as possible.
- CILs have ties to an assortment of other community-based organizations and government programs including state agencies and school systems.