Independent Living – A Great Investment for Wisconsin

The mission of Independent Living Centers includes assisting persons with disabilities to live independently and to be active participants in community life. ILCs not only provide valuable services to persons of any disability or age statewide, they are an excellent investment.

photo of man in wheelchairThe eight ILCs in Wisconsin are Independent Living Resources, MidState Independent Living Consultants, Access to Independence, Options for Independent Living, Society’s Assets, Center for Independence for Western Wisconsin, Independence First, and North Country Independent Living.

Independent Living Centers use home and community-based programs to assist people with all types of disabilities to become more self-sufficient and less dependent on long term government supports. Support services offered in the community allow individuals to make real choices, and result in tremendous cost savings to the state of Wisconsin, Social Security Administration, Medicaid, and Medicare each year. ILCs Are an Excellent Investment!

Centers are unique in a number of significant ways, not the least of which is governance and services are provided predominantly by people with disabilities, and those eligible are of any age, any disability, and regardless of income. ILC services are complimentary to other community-based services including managed care organizations, Aging and Disability Resource Centers, and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.

The impact of center services reaches thousands of Wisconsin citizens with disabilities and their families each year. Services developed are also unique. Some of the services below are available only through Centers, and in rural counties, Centers are the ONLY option for these services. Highlights of the impacts of those services are:

Community Integration

Wisconsin ILCs play a key role in helping individuals with, either leaving costly institutions, or preventing their placement in institutions. During the past biennial
budget, ILCs assisted nearly 3,000 Wisconsin citizens who either left expensive institutional settings or were assisted with prevention of entering institutions for a net MA savings in excess of $24 million.

Employment

The majority of ILC boards and staff, including decision-making staff, are persons with disabilities. In Wisconsin, there are 172 people with disabilities employed at the ILCs. In addition to the staff, last year the ILCs provided employment services to 810 people with disabilities. Employment services provided by ILCs include Benefits Consultation and Analysis, PASS Plan development, Job Seeking Skills, Barriers and Assets Identification, Work Experience/Internship, and Telework.

Benefits

As a result of being employed at the ILCs, 14 employees are no longer on public benefits. The ILCs provided services to an additional 1,396 people with disabilities that assisted them in reducing or eliminating their public benefits.

Assistive Technology and Home Modifications

Independent Living Centers have thousands of pieces of assistive technology in their loan and device demonstration programs. In most areas of the state where Centers operate, no other vendor has the expertise or inventory to assist individuals with identifying and accessing effective and appropriate assistive technology to improve individual independence. People with disabilities are able to make well informed unbiased and meaningful purchases based on the ILCs’ in home AT demonstrations.

Assistive technology and home modifications are often the key to individuals achieving personal outcomes to increase independence, employment, personal mobility, and safety.

In 2010: – The ILCs assisted 3,388 people with getting accessing Assistive Technology and Home Modifications. – 98 Wisconsin residents acquired assistive technology through the statewide micro-loan program, WisLoan, administered exclusively by ILCs. The loaned amount was $886,510 with a 97% repayment rate. – 25 individuals accessed employment opportunities through the Telework Program, also exclusively administered by ILCs.

Personal and Supportive Homecare Services

The consumer-directed approach ILCs employ in all aspects of center core service operations, is also central to the delivery of direct care programs. This is particularly important to all stakeholders as expansion of managed care and resource centers continues—a central theme and goal of both DHS and the Governor. Independent Living Centers have been providing personal and supportive homecare the longest, and some are among the largest providers in the entire state. Funding for these services are possible through collaboration with counties, state and federal programs.

In 2010, 3,420 individuals of all ages received essential personal and supportive homecare through ILCs.

The ILCs are lead agencies on information regarding Managed Care, Family Care and IRIS/ self-directed services and recovery based Mental Health Services. ILCs have a broader knowledge and experience base than other “first call” type of agencies.