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Administration on Disabilities (AoD)

Independent Living Administration


Independent Living Services (ILS) Programs

The Independent Living Services (ILS) Program provides77 formula grants, based on population, to states and territories for the purpose of funding, directly and/or through grant or contractual arrangements, one or more of the following activities:

  1. Supporting the operation of and technical assistance to SILCs;
  2. Providing IL services to individuals with significant disabilities, particularly those in unserved areas of the state;
  3. Demonstrating ways to expand and improve IL services;
  4. Supporting the operation of CILs;
  5. Increasing the capacity of public or nonprofit organizations and other entities to develop comprehensive approaches or systems for providing IL services;
  6. Conducting studies and analyses, developing model policies and procedures, and presenting information, approaches, strategies, findings, conclusions, and recommendations to federal, state and local policymakers;
  7. Training service providers and individuals with disabilities on the IL philosophy; and
  8. Providing outreach to populations that are unserved or underserved by IL programs, including minority groups and urban and rural populations.

To be eligible for financial assistance, states are required to establish a SILC and to submit a State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL) jointly developed and signed by the chairperson of the SILC, not less than 51% of the directors of the CILs in the state, and the director of the designated state entity (DSE).

The Independent Living Formula Grant Program is authorized Under Title VII, Chapter I, Part B of the Rehabilitation Act, as Amended by the workforce innovation and opportunity act (WIOA) of 2014

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Centers for Independent Living (CIL) Programs

The Centers for Independent Living (CILs) Program provides 354 discretionary grants to centers that are consumer-controlled, community-based, cross-disability, nonresidential, private nonprofit agencies for the provision of IL services. At a minimum, centers funded by the program are required to provide the following five IL core services:

  1. Information and referral;
  2. IL skills training;
  3. Peer counseling;
  4. Individual and systems advocacy; and
  5. Services that facilitate transition from nursing homes and other institutions to the community, provide assistance to those at risk of entering institutions, and facilitate transition of youth to postsecondary life.

Centers also may provide, among other services: psychological counseling, assistance in securing housing or shelter, personal assistance services, transportation referral and assistance, physical therapy, mobility training, rehabilitation technology, recreation, and other services necessary to improve the ability of individuals with significant disabilities to function independently in the family or community and/or to continue in employment. The WIOA establishes a set of activities whose standards and assurances must be met by the IL programs. To continue receiving CIL program funding, eligible centers must demonstrate minimum compliance with the following evaluation standards: promotion of the IL philosophy; provision of IL services on a cross-disability basis; support for the development and achievement of IL goals chosen by the consumer; efforts to increase the availability of quality community options for IL; provision of IL core services; resource development activities to secure other funding sources; and community capacity-building activities. A population-based formula determines the total funding available for discretionary grants to centers in each State. Subject to the availability of appropriations, the ACL is required to provide continuation funding to existing centers at the same level of funding they received the prior fiscal year and to provide them with a cost-of-living increase. Funding for new centers in a State is awarded on a competitive basis, based on the State’s priority designation of unserved or underserved areas and the availability of sufficient additional funds within the state.

The Independent Living Discretionary Grant Program is authorized Under Title VII, Chapter I, Part C of the Rehabilitation Act, as Amended by the workforce innovation and opportunity act (WIOA) of 2014

Resources and Useful Links: ILRU website

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ACL Seeks Comments on Draft SILC Indicators of Minimum Compliance

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA) of 2014 requires the Administration for Community Living (ACL) to develop and publish indicators of minimum compliance for Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILCs). ACL is committed to seeking and obtaining public input throughout the process to ensure that the indicators of minimum compliance reflect the values and goals of the Independent Living community.

ACL reviewed the SILC indicators developed and approved by the SILC Congress, and those developed and approved by the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL). We presented an initial draft of the SILC indicators of minimum compliance at the SILC Congress in January 2016. The current draft reflects comments received concerning appropriate indicators. Review the draft in PDF (65KB) or Word (30KB).

ACL is now providing a public comment opportunity through August 15, 2016. Public comments may be sent to comments.SILCindicators@acl.hhs.gov.

ACL will review all public comments received. Once the SILC indicators of Minimum Compliance are made final they will be published in the Federal Register and made available on this website.

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Proposed Rule for Independent Living Programs

On November 16, 2015, ACL published a proposed rule for Independent Living programs in the Federal Register. The proposed rule consolidates and streamlines prior regulations and provides details regarding new requirements included in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Signed into law in July 2014.

This Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) is a starting point, now we want to hear from you. Submit a comment through Regulations.gov by January 15, 2016 to let us know what you think of the proposed rule and how it can be improved in ways that are consistent with statute. The rule will not take effect until after all comments are reviewed and a final rule is released.

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FY 2017-2019 State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL) Guidance:

State Plans for Independent Living (SPILs) show how federal, state and other funds will be used to support the state’s independent t living programs as well as collaborations with other partners in the state and other ACL grantees to enhance and expand service delivery and options for individuals with disabilities.

State Plans for Independent Living (SPILs) can be submitted to the Management Information System at: https://mis.acl.gov/. The SPIL must be submitted no later than 11:59 PM EST on June 30, 2016. Instructions for completing the SPIL are found directly in the SPIL instrument.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 (WIOA) amended the Rehabilitation Act and resulted in changes to the development of the SPIL. ACL anticipates that once final regulations implementing WIOA have been published, amendments to the 2017-2019 SPILs may be necessary. ACL will provide additional guidance at that time. If you have questions about the SPIL instrument or submission, please contact the Independent Living Specialist for your state.

SILC-NET has developed several SPIL-related resources in coordination with ACL:

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Guidance: ILA PI-15-01 Selection of the Designated State Entity (DSE)

Issued: June 5, 2015
Revised: October 28, 2015

Legal and Related Authorities: Section 704 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as Amended

Designated State Entity in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

The Independent Living Administration (ILA) provides the following guidance concerning the Designated State Entity (DSE) based on questions received. As part of the changes to the Rehabilitation Act (Rehab Act or Act) under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 (WIOA), the term “designated state entity (DSE)” is the agency that acts on behalf of the State for Title VII Part B programs.

The State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL) must designate the DSE. Under WIOA, the SPIL is jointly developed by the chairperson of the Statewide Independent Living Council, and the directors of the Centers for Independent Living in the State, after receiving public input from individuals with disabilities and other stakeholders throughout the State. The SPIL is signed by the chair of the Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC or Council), acting on behalf of and at the direction of the Council and at least 51 percent of the directors of the centers for independent living in the State. The SPIL is also signed by the director of the DSE. By signing the SPIL, the director of the DSE agrees to execute the responsibilities of the DSE identified in the law. The responsibilities are:

  • Receive, account for, and disburse funds received by the State based on the SPIL;
  • Provide administrative support services for a program under part B, and a program under part C in a case in which the program is administered by the State under section 723;
  • Keep such records and afford such access to such records as the Administrator (of ACL) finds to be necessary with respect to the programs;
  • Submit such additional information or provide such assurances as the Administrator may require with respect to the programs; and
  • Retain not more than 5% of the funds received by the State for any fiscal year under Part B for the performance of the services outlined in paragraphs (1) through (4). See Section 704 (c) of the Rehabilitation Act, as amended, 29 U.S.C. 796c(c).

In order to have an approvable SPIL under the law, all three parties must sign.

All States currently have an approved SPIL that remains effective through fiscal year 2016. The SPIL continues to govern the provision of Independent Living Services in the State. Each State is expected to continue its support, including specified obligations, for an approved SPIL. A SPIL amendment is required when there are significant, material and/or substantive changes to the information in the SPIL. A change in the entity designated to fill the role of the DSE requires a SPIL amendment, as ACL stated in previous Q&As (DOCX).

Under the current law, nothing prohibits the current DSU from being designated to serve as the new DSE. States that are contemplating a change in their DSE must ensure that the new DSE is capable and willing to carry out the legal and fiscal responsibilities of the DSE.

ACL Suggested Best Practices

ACL encourages the following best practices:

  • Because the director of the DSE must sign the SPIL to affirm agreement to execute the DSE’s statutory responsibilities, ACL encourages SILCs and CILs to involve the DSE in the SPIL development process.
  • Section 704(i) of the Rehabilitation Act requires the SPIL to “set forth the steps that will be taken to maximize the cooperation, coordination, and working relationships among the …” SILC, the CILs, the DSE, and other state agencies that address the needs of specific disability populations. ACL encourages incorporation of involvement of the DSE into the plan.
  • ACL encourages States* to involve the current and prospective DSE, Statewide Independent Living Councils and Centers for Independent Living in discussions around the designation of a State entity to receive and administer State Independent Living Services funds.

*“The term ‘State’ includes, in addition to each of the several States of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.” —Section 7(34) of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. 705.

State Plan Amendment Process

A change in the DSE can only be effectuated when it is designated in the SPIL. As noted, a change of the DSE is a substantial and material change that requires an amendment of the SPIL.

Amendments to the SPIL must be submitted by the State to ACL. “To be eligible to receive financial assistance under this part, a State shall submit to the administrator, and obtain approval of, a State plan ….” Section 704(a)(1) of the Rehabilitation Act, as amended, 29 U.S.C. 796c(a)(1). Required steps include:

  • SILCs must hold public hearings to solicit input from individuals with disabilities and other stakeholders in the State.
  • Amendments must be signed by three parties: the chair of the SILC, acting on behalf of and at the direction of the SILC; and not less than 51 percent of the directors of the Centers in the State. The SPIL is also signed by director of the DSE to affirm their agreement to fulfill all the DSE responsibilities set forth in the law.

Before amending the SPIL, States should send a SPIL amendment request by email to their assigned IL Specialist. The SPIL amendment request should include, at a minimum:

  • The section(s) of the SPIL that the State proposes to amend, including both the existing approved language and the proposed amendment(s),
  • Anticipated timelines for each step, including public hearings and final submission,
  • Whether there will be a change in how funding is made available to the SILC resource plan, SILC placement, and staffing,
  • A statement regarding whether the changes fundamentally impact how the State intends to operate its IL programs,
  • A citation to or copy of any applicable State law or Executive Order that forms the basis for the proposed SPIL amendment, and
  • A statement confirming that the SILC chair, at least 51 percent of the Center directors in the State and the DSE director will sign the amendment.

All requests and attachments for the SPIL amendment process should be submitted in accessible PDF formats or as Word documents.

ILA encourages States to submit proposed SPIL amendment language for review before seeking stakeholder input through public hearings. Once all appropriate steps have been completed, including the public hearing for a SPIL amendment and the signatures of the appropriate parties, States should contact their assigned IL Specialist for instructions on final processes.

Additional Information

ACL is in the process of developing a proposed regulation to implement the relevant provisions of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014, and ILA will continue to issue guidance as needed.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Designated State Entities (DSEs)

  1. What is the effective Date of the ACL Guidance issued on June 5, 2015?
    A: The ACL guidance was effective the date it was issued. ILA PI-15-01 Selection of the DSE was effective June 5th, 2015.
  2. What is the IL Network?
    A: For the purpose of ACL and its guidance, the Independent Living Network or “IL Network” in each state includes: SILC, Part B and Part C CILs, and the DSE. In some States, there may be more than one DSE, if there is a separate agency for the blind.
  3. ACL encouraged SILCs to involve the DSE in the SPIL process. What does that mean?
    A: The guidance encourages communication between the parties who are developing the SPIL and the DSE. The chairperson of the Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) and directors of Centers for Independent Living (CILs) jointly develop the SPIL, consistent with the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), collaborating with IL consumers and the public. While the law removes the requirement that the DSE participate in the development of the SPIL, the DSE is one of the parties required to sign the SPIL. To put it another way, the DSE must sign in order to meet the requirements for an approvable plan. The DSE will continue to be responsible for administering Part B funds that they receive and disburse based on the SPIL, as required by law. Therefore, given the DSE’s role in signing the SPIL, and carrying out its statutory responsibilities, the SILC should involve the DSE to promote the effective and efficient administration of the IL program.
  4. Did WIOA change the duties of the DSE?
    A: Yes, the DSE no longer has a responsibility to develop the SPIL. Though WIOA eliminates the director of the DSE from the SPIL development process, the DSE continues to be the agency that acts as the grantee on behalf of the State for Title VII Part B Independent Living Services programs authorized under Section 713 of the Act and the Part C programs administered by the State under Section 723 of the Act. The general responsibilities of the DSE as required in the statute include:
    • Receive, account for, and disburse funds received by the State based on the SPIL;
    • Provide administrative support services;
    • Keep such records and afford such access to such records as ACL finds to be necessary with respect to the programs;
    • Submit additional information or provide assurances as ACL may require with respect to the programs; and
    • Retain not more than 5% of the Part B funds received by the State for any fiscal year, as required to perform the responsibilities above.
    The DSE must also sign the SPIL.
  5. Who selects the DSE?
    A: The DSE is a governmental State entity that carries out the functions described in Q & A number 4 on behalf of the State. If the DSE does not carry out those functions, the State is legally responsible. Therefore, the State decides which governmental entity will serve as the DSE. To the extent that the SILC and CILs may engage in the DSE selection process under State and federal law, they may provide input to the State concerning the DSE. Such input may include a reminder to the State that the selection of a new DSE is a significant change to the SPIL. If the change in the DSE occurs during an active approved SPIL cycle, the SPIL amendment process must be followed to change the DSE. If the change coincides with the regular SPIL development cycle, the SPIL development process must be followed, and the SPIL must identify the new DSE. Both the SPIL amendment process and the SPIL development process require public hearings conducted by the SILC. The new DSE must be included in an approvable SPIL that is submitted in a timely manner in order for the State to receive funding.
  6. Who should I contact regarding ideas for our IL Network in my State?
    A: First, collaborate with the SILC members and Center directors. If you have further questions, including tips on collaborating with fellow ACL community partners and other stakeholders in your State, please contact your ILA point of contact for your State available on the ILRU website.

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Last Modified: 5/27/2016