There are many resources for persons with disabilities. The City of Philadelphia website is a comprehensive resource. Below is information on Independent Living Centers.
A Brief Overview
It isn’t easy and it can be risky. But millions of persons with disabilities rate is higher than a life of dependency and narrow opportunities and unfulfilled expectations.
Fortunately, persons with disabilities don’t have to do it all on their own. Independent Living Centers (ILC) also called Centers for Independent Living (CIL) are the kind of service organization designed specifically to assist persons with disabilities in achieving and maintaining independent lifestyles. In Philadelphia, the Center for Independent Living is Liberty Resources, Inc.
What Makes ILCs Unique?
The basic idea that makes IL Centers stand apart from other service/provider organizations is that the ones who know best what services disabled persons need are disabled persons themselves.
Centers are consumer-driven and consumer-controlled – that is, disabled persons have substantial involvement in making policy decisions and delivering services. In fact, more than 51 percent of a Center’s Board of Directors and staff are disabled persons .
Who Do Centers Serve?
Centers provide services cross-disability to persons with mobility, visual, hearing, cognitive, intellectual and/or psychiatric disabilities.
The Core Services
Centers offer a wide variety of services. However, there are five (5) specific services that are the “core” of every Center’s efforts toward helping persons with disabilities achieve an independent lifestyle.
- Information & Referral Centers maintain comprehensive information in a database on any number of community resources, programs and services that may be sought by anyone with a disability, family, friend or organization. Topics such as legal assistance, availability of accessible, affordable housing, transportation, personal care service, adaptive sports and sign language interpreters are just a few of the many areas in which a Center can cull information for consumers or other outside agencies. At LRI, direct all calls for Information and Referral to Extension 325.
- Skills Training courses are provided to help persons with disabilities gain skills that will enable them to live independently in their own community. At Liberty Resources, Courses are offered on Money Management, Accessing Public Transportation, Social and Communication Skills, Consumer Rights and Responsibilities, Introduction to Independent Living, Health and Wellness and Managing Your Personal Assistant.
- Peer Counseling Centers offer a unique counseling service based on the premise of who knows better about living with a disability than another person with a disability. Consumers are matched with a staff member with a disability or with someone already living independently in the community to explore options and to solve problems that sometimes arise for persons with disabilities. For example, making adjustments to a newly acquired disability, experiencing changes in living arrangements, or learning to use community services more effectively are conversations best shared with others who may have “been there, done that.” LRI also offers peer support in group settings such as Women Over 40, Young Adults 18-29, People with Psychiatric Disabilities, Loss and Grief and a Social Group for persons transitioning from institutional to community living.
- Advocacy – Centers provide advocacy services at various levels including individual and systems advocacy.
a) Individual advocacy involves Center staff working with consumers to obtain necessary supports and/or services from other community organizations. Also, at LRI, emphasis is placed on Self-Advocacy—helping consumers learn the tools and techniques so that they may become their own advocate.
b) Systems Advocacy involves Center staff, Board members, consumers and volunteers initiating activities to make positive changes at the local, state and national levels that will benefit all persons with disabilities.
- Nursing Home and Youth Transition Although not considered a core service at the national level until 2014, LRI has provided transitioning services in Philadelphia for 25 years. Most persons with disabilities are generally not sick and do not belong in a nursing home or other residential facility. For a variety of reasons, a disabled person may be placed in an institution and have a very difficult time getting back into the community. From helping consumers secure a birth certificate, photo ID and Social Security card to assisting them in finding housing and confirming attendant care services are in place, LRI helps about 35 persons per year move out of an institutional setting into homes of their own.
- Other Services – Centers also offer a number of other services. Generally, such services depend on specific needs of their consumers and the lack of these services elsewhere in the community. Among the additional services provided by LRI are deaf outreach and advocacy, wheelchair cleaning and repair, emergency preparedness training, housing counseling services and cultural opportunities.