Centers for Independent Living (CILs) have been around longer than the first federal special education law passed in 1974. Since ferreting out special needs resources always makes me smile, imagine the size of my grin after learning about them recently. And imagine my chagrin over not discovering this resource when doing the research for Different Dream Parenting: A Practical Guide for Raising a Child with Special Needs.
Centers for Independent Living: The Why of this Special Needs Resource
The CIL first came to my attention through SpecialEducationAdvisor.com. In the article What Are CILs and Why Should You Know About Them, Mary Mazzoni explains why the centers first formed. She says, “Centers for Independent Living (CILs) are non-profit community-based organizations that are run by people with all sorts of disabilities. CILs are an integral part of the Disability Rights and Independent Living Movements in this country.”
The article includes a list explaining why parents of children with special needs should take advantage of the center nearest them. From answering questions about resources about all aspects of life at every stage of life to participating in peer mentoring, the list convinced me of the importance of utilizing this valuable resource.
Centers for Independent Living: The What of this Special Needs Resource
Mazzoni goes on to explain what principles guide CILs. A few of them include:
- Civil Rights
- Peer role models
The article also lists core services:
- Information and referral
- Individual and systems advocacy
- Peer mentoring
- Independent living skills training
Each bulleted item is explained in more detail in Mazonni’s article, What Are CILs and Why Should You Know About Them.
Centers for Independent Living: How to Find this Special Needs Resource
Best of all, the article contains a link to a CIL locator map. I test drove the map, and it led me straight to an extensive list of centers in my state. And to think, I never knew they existed! Rather than copy the link to this post, here’s the link to Mazonni’s article instead: What Are CILs and Why Should You Know About Them. Believe me, it is so full of information, you’ll want to read the entire thing.
What Do You Know about CILs?
Have you dealt with a Center for Independent Living in your state? What was the experience like? Helpful? Frustrating? Do you recommend them or has another resource been more helpful? Leave a comment to share what you know.