Integrated Living Opportunities: All about the ILO

Friday, October 24th, 2014

Hello everyone, and welcome back to our blog this week!

As you may remember from our last post, over the course of this past week the staff of M&L delivered two very important workshops. While both events were hugely successful, we are especially excited about the Integrated Community Based Housing with Services and Supports – Creating a Full Life for Individuals with Disabilities at the Arc of Northern Virginia. Fifty (50) families showed up to understand how to create integrated, inclusive communities using the concept of community partnerships. (To learn more about the specifics of this workshop, please click here to read last week’s blog.) As with every workshop, a number of great questions were asked by the attendees. Although we addressed these questions during and after the presentation, we would like to take the opportunity to provide more information on community partnerships, M&L’s relationship with Center for Independent Futures® and how our nonprofit Integrated Living Opportunities (ILO) came to be.

ILO was established by a core group of Maryland families for the MD, DC and VA area. With the guidance of Center for Independent Futures® and Maedi Tanham Carney CFP® CWIC as the facilitator of the New Futures Initiative™ training, the first core group is using CIF’s tools to create community partnerships and personal networks in Maryland for their family members. We are excited to announce our first family has their daughter moving into her new community on November 1st.

Please join us as we describe exactly what ILO is and how it can help your families with special needs find appropriate, independent communities with the necessary services and supports to create a full life for your family member with a disability.

What is ILO?

Integrated Living Opportunities is a non-profit organization* that is being created by a core group of founding families. Our objective is bringing family groups together to establish integrated, sustainable and inclusive communities for their family members with disabilities through the use of community partnerships. ILO grew from our working relationship with Center for Independent Futures® (CIF) and delivers their New Futures Initiative™ training to families in the Washington, Maryland and Virginia areas – the goal of this partnership is to create communities that replicates CIF’s Community Living Option™ residences and communities. (For more information on our community development project and CIF, please click here to access our housing archive.) Simply put, ILO is a network of parents of young adults with disabilities, seeking to support each other with the goal of creating full lives for our family members in an integrated and inclusive community.

ILO’s vision is to provide individuals with disabilities the choice and opportunity to live, work, and play as fully respected members of a community that offers an array of supports and services designed to create and maintain a safe environment. We want this environment to promote independent living, employment, and recreational activities. ILO pledges to accomplish exactly that by working together to establish new cooperative communities and support arrangements that are person-centered, maximize self-direction, and fully support community integration, participation and inclusion.

ILO – A Detailed Description

To begin, it is important to understand that ILO is not a housing or service provider at this time. As we wrote above, it is a network that we are creating to help families come together and create community living opportunities for their family members with special needs. An essential part of ILO is teaching the concept of community partnerships, with the families working together pooling resources (time, energy and funds), within a community and networks of support. ILO will be the facilitator of personal networks. All self-advocates will have their own circles of supports (personal networks), and ILO will make sure this is sustainable while the parents are alive and after they are gone.

So, to answer the above question succinctly and precisely: ILO is a framework that holds all the components of the special needs housing process and independent, community-based living together. Under the umbrella of ILO, parents/caregivers will undergo training that allows them to create communities for their loved ones with special needs, and are provided with the support networks necessary to see this community creation through from start to finish. ILO will guide parents through the process of acquiring services and supports necessary for their child to live independently, and provide support and recreational/social activities for their children while they live independently. ILO will also support these individuals after their parent/caregivers are gone, by continuing to facilitate the networks of personal support that each individual brought with them to ILO.

Building a special needs community is a project. Creating a community living model with supports for independent living, recreation, employment, and socialization, is a movement. By creating ILO, we are creating a movement towards integrated communities in Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia. That is how ILO is connected to special needs housing, and that is why you should join – it is an organization that will help you find, access, and if necessary create the type of independent living that exactly suits the needs of your child with a disability.

How Does ILO Work?

There are a number of steps to joining ILO – remember, the end goal is to create integrated communities and life-long networks of support for your child with special needs, so every step that ILO requires is one step closer to that goal.

First, to join ILO, parents/caregivers must undergo 4 days of training to understand how to build and implement community partnerships. This training, called the New Futures Initiative™, is delivered by Center for Independent Futures. Until communities are established in Maryland and/or Washington, D.C., the first two days of this training will take place in Evanston, with the second two in your hometown. For more information on the cost of this training and the specifics of what it entails please contact us. We also published a blog post on M&L’s experience with the training process – please click here to read.

After you have completed the New Futures Initiative™ training, self-advocates (individuals who will live in the communities), must go through the Independent Living Readiness Inventory™ (ILRI). The ILRI was designed by CIF as a tool to help determine whether or not an individual is ready to live independently; a trained consultant administers the inventory, and uses observations of “hands-on, experiential activities” and background information to determine the individual’s independent living skills. For more information on the ILRI, please click here.

Once the ILRI has been administered, ILO will use the outcome of the assessment to guide families to acquiring the necessary supports and services to help the self-advocate become as independent and integrated in the community as possible.

For more information on this process, please contact M&L – we would love to talk you through the process, and answer any questions you may have.

What services does ILO provide?

As mentioned above, ILO is a facilitator of services and supports. Here is a brief, specific list of the services that ILO will provide. Remember – this list is not inclusive. The services that ILO will provide will grow as the organization does.

  • ILO will help you find and create a community for your family member with special needs, help you identify and secure the supports needed for that individual to integrate successfully into the community and live independently, and ensure that the personal circles of support are sustainable while you are alive and after you are gone.
  • ILO will establish lifelong advocacy for your child with special needs, and will continue to advocate for and facilitate personal networks of support for your child after you are gone.
  • ILO will facilitate committees that will create and organize recreational, social and life skills classes in specific areas of community living.
  • ILO will provide its members with the opportunity to attend free workshops in life planning, estate planning, employment, government benefits and other relevant topics to stay abreast of all essential topics in special needs.
  • ILO will help with the budgeting process for acquiring a home. If you are interested in purchasing or renting a home to create community living for your family member with disabilities, ILO can help with this process. In addition to helping families financially plan for this process, ILO will educate families as to how to access financial support for purchasing this home, i.e. mortgage information for individuals with disabilities, housing vouchers, etc. ILO will also provide valuable information on the different programs existing in your area which can help you acquire financing or qualify for different programs. An example of one of these types of programs is the Moderately Priced Dwelling Unit (MPDU) program in Maryland.

Would You Like More Information? Learn how to join ILO today!

As we mentioned in last week’s blog, the workshop on Tuesday was filled to capacity. We will happily host this workshop again in Virginia, Maryland or Washington, D.C. if interest warrants. To request that this workshop be hosted in your venue, or to be added to a notification list should this workshop take place again, please contact us. You may also wish to read other blogs we have posted on ILO or any of our special needs community development projects – click here to access our blog archive.If you have any questions or would like information related to special needs planning in general, please let us know! We are more than happy to help.

Please join us next week as we talk a little bit about how to create communities, and discuss the reasons our founding families chose to join ILO and create their own special needs communities for their children. Until then!

* M&L Special Needs Planning, LLC is in the process of filing Integrated Living Opportunities as a non-profit 501c3 – as soon as this process is official, we will release an announcement.

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