LIFE Center for Independent Living (LIFE CIL)’s Core Services
Every Center for Independent Living has five core services that they must provide. These are advocacy, information and referral, independent living skills, peer support and mentoring, and transition.
Advocacy is central to a Center for Independent Living’s mission. We offer both individual and systems advocacy. Individual advocacy is assisting an individual with a disability to protect his or her rights or to fight for needed resources. Through systems advocacy, we advance civil rights and equal access for all persons with disabilities on the local, state, and federal levels.
Individual advocacy is done by teaching the individual self-advocacy skills. LIFE CIL staff does not act as one to one advocates in any legal setting. We believe the key to true empowerment is full knowledge of one’s rights, how those rights are protected, and how to utilize the laws that provide those protections.
In gaining self-advocacy skills individuals can learn how to communicate and negotiate with agencies, service providers, employers and others in order to obtain needed benefits, services or accommodations.
LIFE Center also offers the Legislative Intern Project in which individuals learn how to participate in the legislative process, and are encouraged to register and vote.
Systems Advocacy is done when LIFE Center and involved advocates work for a positive change in the community, working to create awareness of the barriers to participation by persons with disabilities, and how such barriers can be removed.
Through public awareness activities, events and participation in the legislative process, LIFE Center works to promote and affect positive changes on the local, state and federal level. Systems advocacy focuses on making of public policies that will help individuals with disabilities and will assist in the full inclusion of persons with disabilities in the communities we serve.
“I learned to be a more effective advocate”
Information and Referral
We assist and can be a contact point for people with disabilities, their families, and the community in locating available services and products such as affordable, accessible housing, transportation options, adaptive equipment, support services, and more.
Through information and referral we offer guidance in locating available services and products as well as tips on how to access such services and products. Referrals can be made to many outside resources as appropriate. LIFE Center also maintains a comprehensive list of housing rental options in our four county service area.
“I received information on help with phones and temporary medical card”
Independent Living Skills
We teach a wide range of skills needed to live independently and manage life with a disability. Skills training is available to persons with disabilities in almost any topic where there is a need for more independence, we work with individuals to increase their skills which can help them gain more control of their lives.
LIFE Center offers skills training in budgeting, homemaking, shopping, education, self-advocacy, personal assistant management, effective interpersonal communication, recreation and leisure, transportation and self-care. The individual identifies the areas in which they feel a need for improvement and is provided those services individually or through group involvement.
“Learned how to do daily shopping and cleaning for my house”
Peer Support and Mentoring
Peer support is one of the fundamentals of a Center for Independent Living. Who better knows the issues of individuals with disabilities face than another person with a disability who has been there and done that? Peer mentors provide role modeling and share experiences, feelings, and awareness of disability issues.
Through peer support there is a full exchange of brainstorming, problem solving, and sharing of concerns, successes, and ways to address issues. The peer support relationship allows for the more experienced person to provide information and support and serve as a positive role model to the person whose disability might be new or more recent. Peer mentoring can help make a big difference in an individual’s sense of self-awareness and self-acceptance.
“I can control my social anxiety more than ever, and I’m just a better person because of LIFE Center”
Transition is assisting people with disabilities to move out of nursing homes and other institutions into independent lifestyles of their choice; helping to prevent people with disabilities from entering institutions; and assisting youth in transitioning from high school to adult life including next steps such as going to college or obtaining employment.
“With the help of LIFE CIL, I am learning about choices for college and how I can get a job after high school to pay for my own place.”