Mission

ABOUT

Mission

To strengthen the voice of Iowans with disabilities on issues affecting their lives, to build a statewide network of centers for independent living, and to collaborate with our partners in advancing the independence, productivity, and full inclusion of Iowans with disabilities.

What is the Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC)?

The Iowa Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) is a council where the majority of members are persons with disabilities. The role of the Council is to plan for the coordination and expansion of independent living services in Iowa.

The Iowa Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) is a federally mandated, Governor-appointed Council that is an independent non-profit corporation. The majority of SILC members are persons with disabilities who do not work for a Center for Independent Living (CIL), or a State agency.

Under the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, the SILC has the responsibility to plan, in collaboration with the CILs, for the coordination and expansion of independent living services in Iowa, and to promote the development of a statewide network of Centers for Independent Living (CILs).

This includes collaborating with the CILs and other partners to advocate for the services and resources that individuals with disabilities need to be able to live independently, in the community of their choice, and not be forced to live in an institution such as a nursing home.

The Iowa Independent Living Network is comprised of

  • the Iowa Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC),
  • the six Iowa Centers for Independent Living (CILs),
  • Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services (IVRS),
  • and Iowa Department for the Blind (IDB).

The SILC does not provide any direct services to individuals with disabilities, but their partners, the CILs, IVRS, and IDB, do provide direct services. The SILC and the CILs are also responsible for developing the State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL) every three years.

What are Centers for Independent Living (CILs)?

Centers for Independent Living (CILs) are run BY people with disabilities, FOR people with disabilities. CILs provide five core services to anyone with a disability who requests them.

Centers for Independent Living (CILs) are Consumer controlled non-profits that are authorized under the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. At least 51% of CIL Staff and Boards MUST be individuals with disabilities. CILs are run BY people with disabilities, FOR people with disabilities. CILs provide five core services to anyone with a disability who requests them. The five core services provide by CILs are as follows:

  1. Information and Referral
  2. Independent Living Skills Training
  3. Peer Support Counseling
  4. Individual and Systems Advocacy
  5. Transition Services
    a. Transitioning youth from high school into post-secondary education, training, and employment.
    b. Transitioning individuals with disabilities out of residential facilities and back into community living.

CILs work with individuals with disabilities, also known as Consumers, and the Consumers identify the goals they want to work on. The CILs assist Consumers with finding the needed resources and services needed to meet the goals that Consumers set for themselves.

Unfortunately, the six Iowa CILs are severely underfunded, and are only able to serve 35 of Iowa’s 99 counties. They are able to provide information and referral services to individuals who do not live in their service areas, but are not able to provide the other four core services to individuals who do not reside in their service area. The CILS do collaborate with Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Iowa Department for the Blind, and other disability and aging organizations to provide as many resources as possible to Iowans with disabilities.

What Is the Iowa Independent Living Network?

The Iowa Independent Living Network is comprised of

  • the Iowa Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC)
  • the six Iowa Centers for Independent Living (CILs)
  • Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services (IVRS)
  • and Iowa Department for the Blind (IDB)

The CILs, IVRS, and IDB provide independent living services to Iowans with disabilities, regardless of type of disability, age, gender, race, or sexual orientation. The services provided assists Iowans with disabilities to live independently in the communities of their choice.

What Does the SILC Do?

The SILC works to strengthen and expand Iowa’s Independent Living Network, and to build partnerships to address disability issues and to promote public policies and programs consistent with independent living values.

The SILC collaborates with the six Iowa Centers for Independent Living, Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services (IVRS), and Iowa Department for the Blind (IDB) to work to strengthen and expand the network of Centers, to identify issues important to all people with disabilities which need to be addressed at the State and Federal level, and to obtain input from Centers, Consumers, and other partners as the SILC and CILs jointly develop the State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL) every three years. The SILC works to build partnerships to address disability issues and to promote public policies and programs consistent with independent living values.

What Do the State Agencies of IVRS and IDB Do for Independent Living Services?

Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services (IVRS) and Iowa Department for the Blind (IDB) both operate Independent Living Services (ILS) programs for Iowans with disabilities. They are able to provide at least some of the same five core services as CILs in all 99 counties, but they are also very underfunded and are thus not able to serve everyone who indicates a need.

What are Independent Living Services?

Independent Living (IL) Services and supports are those which help people with disabilities to accomplish their goals and to live, work, learn, and play in communities of their choice. Building a network of supports for independent living often requires advocacy for changes in the systems that affect the lives of people with disabilities.

What is the Independent Living Movement?

The core value of Independent Living: that people with disabilities understand disability issues and their own needs better than anyone else, and that they must take responsibility for removing the barriers that they face in education, employment, housing, and civic and religious life.

The Independent Living Movement had its early origins after World War II, when disabled veterans successfully promoted improved accessibility in downtown Kalamazoo, Michigan, and later when Gini Laurie, a hospital volunteer, founded the Rehabilitation Gazette, which spurred people with polio to start sharing their experiences. One Gazette reader was Ed Roberts, the “Father of Independent Living,” who decided to stop letting health professionals and social workers make decisions for him, and to take responsibility for his own life.

This is the core value of Independent Living: that people with disabilities understand disability issues and their own needs better than anyone else, and that they must take responsibility for removing the barriers that they face in education, employment, housing, and civic and religious life. The Independent Living Movement is based on the philosophy that the “problem” with disability rests not with the individual, who somehow needs to be “fixed,” but with the barriers preventing full inclusion in society, which include public attitudes, physical barriers, and the lack of supports for independence and self-determination. It is these barriers that need to be fixed, so that people with disabilities can live, work, acquire assets, have families, and participate in society just like anyone else.

The Independent Living Movement is an arm of the disability rights movement which has had a significant impact on current language, thought, and public policy regarding disability. Many of the principles of the movement are expressed in Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and in the Americans with Disabilities Act, e.g., that disability is a normal part of the human experience, that people with disabilities have experienced widespread discrimination, and that they are nonetheless entitled to full participation in society.

We Would Like To Hear From You!

The SILC meets at least four times a year. Meetings are open to the public and public comment is welcome. For meeting dates, locations, agendas, or minutes, or if you or someone you know is interested in serving on the SILC, please e-mail Dawn Francis, SILC Executive Director, at dawn@iowasilc.org. Information on meeting dates, times, and locations can also be found on this website under “About the SILC”.