Independent Living Program
The Bureau’s Independent Living (IL) program provides comprehensive independent living services, through contracts with Connecticut’s five community-based independent living centers (ILCs). These centers promote empowerment and self-reliance for persons with disabilities. There are five core services provided by an independent living center:
Peer counselors at ILCs provide support to consumers by drawing on their own life experience with disabilities and negotiating the system.
Information and referral:
ILCs assist the individual in identifying and accessing services and supports, benefits, assistive technology, housing, personal assistance services, or any other resources to enhance independent living.
Transition assistance from nursing homes and other institutions to community-based residences. Assisting individuals to avoid institutional placement.
Transition of youth with significant disabilities after completion of secondary education to post-secondary life.
Individual and systems advocacy:
ILCs assist consumers to secure the supports and services needed to maximize their independence. Advocacy on a systems level challenges the barriers that can stigmatize and exclude people with disabilities from full community participation.
Independent living skills training:
ILCs provide training in activities of daily living and the skills needed to make community living as full and rich as possible. Examples of skill training areas are: management and recruitment of personal attendants, financial management, utilizing community resources, locating housing, consumer rights and responsibilities.
In response to the "Olmstead Decision" (Olmstead vs. L.C., June 22, 1999), which prohibits states from institutionalizing persons with disabilities who with proper supports can live in the community, BRS is working in partnership with representatives of state agencies, independent living centers and advocates for persons with disabilities, to find innovative ways to restructure services and expand independent living opportunities for persons who are at risk of, or who are, institutionalized. Olmstead and Connecticut’s response to it represent a profound and positive shift in disability policy.
Independent living centers are fundamentally different from other providers that serve people with disabilities. The traditional approach to assisting people with disabilities originated from a medical perspective that thinks of these people as requiring curing or fixing. Using this approach, a medical professional controls the service and the desired outcome is to achieve maximum physical or mental functioning.
The independent living model of service provision believes that the problem lies with society, not the individual. A disability is viewed as a condition, often times permanent, that affects or restricts an individual’s ability perform certain tasks. With this approach, the person with the disability controls the service instead of the professional; the desired outcome of service is to achieve complete control over daily living whenever and wherever possible.
Independent living centers offer services designed to empower persons with disabilities to maintain an independent life, no matter what their living situation. The guiding principle is integration of the person with a disability to the fullest degree possible into the community of choice.
Independent living centers are:
directed, managed and staffed to a substantial degree by qualified persons with severe disabilities.
located within the community in which the consumers of its services reside.
designed to address the disability-related needs of the community, by identifying service gaps and barriers which limit the independence of people with disabilities in that community.
provide a single point of access to services for all people regardless of the nature or type of disability.
support self-sufficiency and independent living for the individual in their chosen community and setting.
Connecticut Association of Center for Independent Living(CACIL) website: www.cacil.net
Connecticut Independent Living Centers
Access Independence (AI)
Charles Conway, Executive Director
300 Long Beach Blvd., #1
Stratford, CT 06615
(203) 378-6977 (V)
(203) 375-2748 (Fax)
web site: http://www.accessinct.org
Center for Disability Rights (CDR)
Carmen Correa-Rios, Executive director
369 Highland Street
West Haven, CT 06516
(203) 934-7077 (V)
(203) 934-7079 (TDD)
web site: www.centerfordisabilityrights-ct.org
Independence Unlimited (IU)
Jaclyn Pinney, Executive Director
151 New Park Avenue - Suite D
Hartford, CT 06106
Disabilities Network of Eastern Connecticut (DNEC)
Sharron Heddle, Executive director
18 Ohio Avenue
Norwich, CT 06360
web site: www.dnec.org
Independence Northwest (IN)
Eileen M. Healy, Executive Director
Independence Northwest, Inc.
1183 New Haven Road, Suite 200
Naugatuck, CT 06770