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Centers for Independent Living and the Fifth Core Service

Submitted by Nancy McClellan-Hickey, Executive Director

Since the opening of the first Centers for Independent Living in the early 1970’s, there has been a mandate for each center to provide four core services. PACE provides these services and they are Advocacy, Information and Referral, Skills Training, and Peer Counseling. Recently through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, an amendment has been made to add a fifth core service: Transition.

One type of transition is Reintegration. Over the years the Centers took issue with their peers being financially trapped in nursing homes – yes, that happens. People have the ability to live independently in the community with supports such as home services, personal assistance, emergency response systems, and accessibility adjustments in their home. When these issues are addressed, a person can return to the community to live independently. Centers have seen this and advocated for it for years, each Center talking to their legislators and educating them as to how this allows the person to regain control over their lives. Beyond that, it costs the State less than institutionalization by about one third. Seemed like a no brainer but the bureaucracy needed time to grow too for the government to get in on it.

Now centers also include Youth Transition from school to work or continued education. PACE is currently applying for funding to allow us to work with young people who want to make that transition. A center in Rockford has been working in this area and has developed a curriculum they use in the schools to prepare kids for decisions regarding work or continued education. Through this program, kids get a chance to meet and talk to their adult peers who have been through those transitions and see employed people who have disabilities as their role models. They can think about how they would adapt the work or learning environment, whether to disclose a disability to an employer, and other questions not usually offered by traditional education. As you would expect, that can be a powerful motivator. As for schools, they will get to hear from the adult peers as well – peers who have already been through those systems – which in turn helps the schools learn how to better assist students with disabilities navigate their transition from high school to work or higher education.

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Keep an eye on PACE’s Facebook page for updates on the fifth core service, and as always, check back next week for more from PACE!

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