Integrated Living Opportunities and New Futures Initiative™ Training: A Breakdown

 August 20, 2015
Posted by M&LAdmin4

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

As many of our regular readers know, M&L and a group of committed individuals have banded together to create Integrated Living Opportunities (ILO), a 501c3 certified non-profit organization. ILO facilitates the creation of communities and networks of support for individuals with disabilities that have achieved or are looking to achieve independent living. (If you are new to this blog and would like to learn more about ILO, please click here.)

Well, over the last few months ILO has been growing by leaps and bounds – as we mentioned in last week’s blog, M&L & ILO will be facilitating the third round of Center for Independent Futures’ New Futures Initiative™ (NFI) training in February of 2016. As ILO continues to grow, more and more families are learning of our organization, our goals and missions. As a result, we find ourselves approached with questions about exactly what our organization is, and (specifically) how the NFI training helps individuals that have family members with disability build full lives. If these are questions that you have been asking yourself, then please read on as today’s blog is devoted to answering them!

NFI Training: What is it?

The New Futures Initiative™ (NFI) training program was designed and developed by Center for Independent Futures (CIF), and is intended to help families open doors to community-based, supported, independent living options within one’s own neighborhood. The program guides participants through the steps necessary to create community and independent living options, and focuses on CIF’s core values – community, choice, assessment, person-centered planning, family, etc. Note: To learn more about CIF, please visit their website at

All ILO participating families are required to take the NFI training – the families that take this training together form a core group, and work together in an innovative partnership to create full life futures for their self-advocates. It is through the NFI training process that ILO participating families learn about intentional community development, community partnerships, organizing community, and much, much more. In a nutshell, the NFI training program gives ILO participating families a step-by-step process to help their self-advocates achieve independent living, with the necessary supports to create a future based on CIF’s Full Life Model™.

NFI Training: What does it entail?

The NFI/ILO training gives participating families of ILO a step-by-step process to help their self-advocates move from their family homes into their own home with the necessary supports to create a Full Life™. CIF uses a four-step approach, titled, “Path to Community Living Options™” in this training. This approach is broken down into two phases:

Phase I of the training process takes place in Evanston, Illinois and guides participating families through two day long workshops. Day 1 focuses on the first step – Beginning the Journey. In this portion of the training, participating families are introduced to CIF organization and staff, including a run down of the CIF philosophy. Participating families are introduced to the concept of planning, including the elements of the plan, and how to plan for individuals, families, and organizations. NFI trainers introduce intentional communities to participating families, including how these communities represent a paradigm shift within housing for individuals with disability, and how community involvement can benefit our young adults with special needs. Residential options are also discussed, including housing alternatives, ownership, legal structures, etc. The day closes with a dinner with the families and participants.

During day 2 of the first phase, the training centers on Step 2: Taking Action. After a welcome and a discussion of the material presented on the first day, participants are guided through a discussion of independent living readiness, and are introduced to CIF’s Skills Inventory (previously known as the IRLI). A discussion of acquiring Community Living Option™ housing then takes place, followed by a visit to a CLO residence for a first hand look at the way CIF self-advocates and their families are building Full Life Futures™ in supported communities. The afternoon session of day 2 consists of a review of the financial commitments, responsibilities, and structures required for creating community, followed by a review of what has been covered and a discussion of the next steps in the process.

The new participating families come back to the DC area and join the other families in the monthly meetings. In the beginning, the new families are brought up to speed with what the Board is working on, and where the families are in establishing new communities. This is the time the new families roll up their sleeves and begin working on the community of interest. There is always a participating family committee or two in the works helping create a new working document of sorts. For example, at the present time ILO has a website and a confidentiality policy committee working on these two issues to present to the other families and then the Board for the final approval.

Phase II of the training process typically takes place a few months after phase I has been completed. During this phase, CIF certified trainers travel to the area in which the community is being developed (in the case of ILO, Washington, D.C. and/or Montgomery County, Maryland.) This phase also consists of two daylong workshops focusing on the last two steps, Moving Ahead and Opening Your Doors. During the Moving Ahead step, participants are introduced to the CIF Support Model. A discussion of the housing financial options follows the support model, as well as a review of the communities that are a part of ILO’s support network (currently Germantown, MD and soon Washington DC). The afternoon portion of this session involves information on funding independent living options, as well as a discussion of Support Criteria, and questions for support partners. Day 3’s workshop also includes a presentation from service providers or professionals that ILO has partnered with.

Day 4 of the training, Opening Doors, is the final session for the NFI program. Throughout this last day, all discussions focus on the last steps involved in helping your self-advocate achieve independent living: the individual and family transitioning process plays a large role in the discussion, including how the self-advocate should be introduced to his or her new home. Community asset mapping, i.e. identifying and planning for community partners is discussed, with families encouraged to complete their own asset map. Finances, an essential part of any independent living option, are touched on, i.e. family vs. individuals budgeting, long term financial supports, fundraising, etc. The last day of the training wraps up with acknowledgements of what has been achieved, questions about the process, and plans for the next step in the process.

Would You Like More Information?

If you are interested in ILO and the New Futures Initiative™ training program, please contact us! We would love the opportunity to discuss with you how creating intentional, inclusive communities can help your young adults with disabilities life full lives, supported by and integrated into the community. At ILO, it is our goal to help you create and facilitate the networks of support for your young adults with special needs that will support them now as they build independent lives and in the future.

For further reading on this topic, please visit our blog archive. As well, M&L and ILO are hosting a workshop titled Integrated Living Opportunities: Where are we today? on September 15th at the Treatment and Learning Center in Rockville, MD. As current ILO participating families will be present at this event, it will be an excellent opportunity to ask specific questions to those that have already been through the NFI training process. For more information on this workshop or to register, please click here.

Thanks for stopping by today – don’t forget visit us again next week!

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