Centers for Independent Living

Current Section  Purpose
 Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services Home
Archived Information

Per the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, the Centers for Independent Living (IL, Part C) program of the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) has been transferred to the new Independent Living Administration (ILA), a part of the Administration for Community Living (ACL) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. For current information on the ILA, please visit

Program Office: Rehabilitation Services Administration

CFDA Number: 84.132A
Program Type: Discretionary/Competitive Grants
Also Known As: CILs


This program provides support for the planning, conduct, administration, and evaluation of centers for independent living that comply with the standards and assurances in Sec. 725 of the Rehabilitation Act , consistent with state plans for establishing statewide networks of centers. Centers are consumer-controlled, community-based, cross-disability, nonresidential, private, nonprofit agencies that are designed and operated within local communities by individuals with disabilities. Centers provide an array of independent living services.


This program supports centers for independent living that are designed and operated within a local community by individuals with disabilities and provide an array of independent living services, including the core services of information and referral, independent living skills training, peer counseling, and individual and systems advocacy.

Additional Information

The purpose of the independent living programs is to maximize the leadership, empowerment, independence, and productivity of individuals with disabilities and to integrate these individuals into the mainstream of American society. Independent living programs provide financial assistance to provide, expand and improve independent living services; develop and support statewide networks of centers for independent living; and improve working relationships among state independent living rehabilitation programs, centers for independent living, statewide Independent Living Councils (SILCs), Rehabilitation Act programs outside of Title VII, and other relevant federal and non-federal programs.

The independent living programs are current-funded. However, the Act contains a provision allowing all Title VII grantees to carry over unobligated funds for an additional fiscal year. States participating in the State Grants and Older Blind programs must match every $9 of federal funds with $1 in non-federal cash or in-kind resources in the year for which the federal funds are appropriated. To be eligible for financial assistance under the Independent Living State grants or Centers for Independent Living programs, states are required to establish a SILC. Each State must also submit a state plan for independent living that is jointly developed and signed by the director of the designated State vocational rehabilitation unit(s) (DSU) and the chairperson of the SILC.

The Centers for Independent Living program provides grants for consumer-controlled, community-based, cross-disability, nonresidential, private nonprofit agencies that are designed and operated within a local community by individuals with disabilities and provide an array of independent living services. At a minimum, centers are required to provide the core services of information and referral, independent living skills training, peer counseling, and individual and systems advocacy. Most centers are also actively involved in one or more of the following activities: community planning and decision making; school-based peer counseling, role modeling, and skills training; working with local governments and employers to open and facilitate employment opportunities; interacting with local, state, and federal legislators; and staging recreational events that integrate individuals with disabilities with their nondisabled peers.

A population-based formula determines the total amount that is available for discretionary grants to centers in each state. If state funding for the operation of centers for independent living exceeds the level of federal funds for this program in any fiscal year, the designated state unit may apply for authority to award grants under this program in the following fiscal year. There are currently only three states that are both eligible and have elected to manage their own centers program. In all other cases, the Department makes the awards.

In addition to funding centers for independent living, between 1.8 and 2 percent of the funds appropriated under this part must be used for grants, contracts or cooperative agreements to provide training and technical assistance with respect to planning, developing, conducting, administering, and evaluating centers for independent living. Annual performance reports provide information regarding the centers’ and SILCs’ most pressing training and technical assistance needs.

The Act establishes a set of standards and assurances that centers for independent living must meet and requires the Department to develop and publish indicators of minimum compliance with the standards. These standards and assurances are used in evaluating compliance in the following areas: philosophy, including consumer control and equal access; provision of services on a cross-disability basis; support of the development and achievement of the independent living goals chosen by consumers; advocacy to increase the quality of community options for independent living; provision of independent living core services; resource development; and community capacity-building activities, such as community advocacy, technical assistance and outreach. Each year, the Department must conduct compliance reviews of at least 15 percent of the centers and one-third of the designated state units funded under this part.

As required by the 1998 amendments to the Rehabilitation Act, the Department must award grants to any eligible agency that had been awarded a grant as of September 30, 1997. In effect, all CILs funded by the end of fiscal year 1997 are "grandfathered in," and thus guaranteed continued funding as long as they continue to meet program and fiscal standards and assurances.

Last Modified: 07/10/2015