Independent Living Specialists (ILS) provide five core services: Peer Services, Independent Living Skills, Youth/Adult Transitional Services, Advocacy and Information and Referral.
This core service provides the one-on-one informal support from someone who has “been there” and has “lived experience.” A peer counselor, independent living specialist, or wellness coach provides non-clinical counseling and support to each individual who comes to the center. They serve as a peer mentor by understanding the day-to-day challenges faced by individuals with disabilities or diagnoses. The support provides each consumer the empowerment to achieve independence through their own examples of consumer control and by sharing their own personal experiences. Independent Living Specialists at Independent Living Centers are peers with lived experience. The peer philosophy is truly something that is unique to CIL’s and have and will continue to benefit the consumers that come into our office for services.
Independent Living Skills
One of the core services that every independent living center offers is “independent living skills.” These skills are taught to assist each person with a disability the skill set that he or she may need to remain independent in the home and/or community in which he or she chooses.
Independent Living Skills provide a person with disabilities to achieve the maximum quality of life through integration and community participation. Independent Living Specialists work along each individual to create a customized plan with personal, vocational, recreational and social goals which will assist each individual to achieve the goals that he or she decides are important to obtain independence and equality.
Youth Transition Services
From youth to adulthood: Individuals who are age 14 to 24 are developing and growing into the transition from teenager to adult and learning the skills that are needed to “transition” into living independently. Youth transition also facilitates support to young adults with disabilities into higher education, vocational training, employment, and integration into the community.
Adult Transitional Services
From an institutional setting back into the community: This definition describes the transition of people with disabilities from nursing homes, psychiatric institutions or other residential programs to home or a community-based setting in the community in which he or she decides. This transition process also provides support and assistance to those at risk of entering an institution.
Information & Referrals
Information and Referral services are provided to people with disabilities, family members, caregivers, service providers, and the community in response to a request for information, program or services.
Information offered through the Independent Living Center includes:
Disability history, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and disability specific laws, Disability Rights, Advocacy, Links to Community Resources, and referrals to external programs which may assist in achieving short and long term goals toward independence and enhanced quality of life.
There are two types of advocacy offered from Centers of Independent Living: Individual and Systems
Individual or personal advocacy provides people with disabilities the opportunity to achieve equal access to social, economic, financial, and vocational goal. This form of advocacy is designed to protect personal and legal rights of each individual regardless of the type of disability that he or she may have. Systems advocacy attempts to influence, enhance and/or change laws and community attitudes surrounding disability. A systems advocate challenges and addresses any local, regional, state or national issue which effects more than five individuals with disabilities, including access to public establishments, disability parking, voting regulations, and access to public figures.