See more about the Independent Living Services (ILS) Program.
What are Centers for Independent Living?
Designed and operated by individuals with disabilities, Centers for Independent Living (CILs) provide independent living services for people with disabilities for people with all types of disabilities. CILs are at the core of ACL's independent living programs, which work to support community living and independence for people with disabilities across the nation based on the belief that all people can live with dignity, make their own choices, and participate fully in society. These programs provide tools, resources, and supports for integrating people with disabilities fully into their communities to promote equal opportunities, self-determination, and respect.
This graphic illustrates how CILs make community living possible.
What is Independent Living?
Independent living can be considered a movement, a philosophy, or specific programs. In the context of ACL, independent living programs are supported through funding authorized by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (The Act). Title VII, chapter 1 of the Act states the current purpose of the program is to “promote a philosophy of independent living including a philosophy of consumer control, peer support, self-help, self-determination, equal access, and individual and system advocacy, in order to maximize the leadership, empowerment, independence, and productivity of individuals with disabilities, and the integration and full inclusion of individuals with disabilities into the mainstream of American society.”
Key provisions of the Act include responsibilities of the Designated State Entity (DSE), provisions for the Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILCs), requirements for the State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL), and Center for Independent Living standards and assurances. (See below for details on all these areas.)
To receive funding, states must jointly develop and submit a State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL), which is a three-year plan for providing independent living services in the state. The Designated State Entity (DSE) is the agency that, on behalf of the state, receives, accounts for and disburses funds received under Subpart B of the Act. The Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) is an independent entity responsible to monitor, review, and evaluate the implementation of the SPIL. Centers for Independent Living (CILs) are consumer-controlled, community-based, cross-disability, nonresidential private non-profit agency that are designed and operated within a local community by individuals with disabilities, and provides an array of independent living services.
Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
In July 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) was signed into law, transferring the Independent Living programs, the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), and the Assistive Technology programs to ACL. WIOA also included statutory changes that affect independent living programs, including the addition of new core services, shifts in the process of developing and adopting state plans and changes in the functions of the SILC.
ACL developed a final rule to implement the relevant provisions of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014, and will continue to issue guidance as needed. See this page for more information on WIOA and related guidance.
- Office of Independent Living Programs Contact List
Office of Independent Living Programs
* DSEs (All Regions)
* SILCs (All Regions)
*Training and Technical Assistance Grants
CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT
NY, NJ, PR, VI
DC, DE, MD, PA, VA, WV
AL, FL, GA, KY, MS, NC, SC, TN
IL, IN, MI, MN, OH, WI
AR, LA, OK, NM, TX
IA, KS, MO, NE
CO, MT, UT, WY, ND, SD
CA, NV, AZ, HI, GU, CNMI, AS
*Native American IL Demonstration Programs (CA, MI)
AK, ID, OR, WA
- Independent Living Services (ILS) Programs
The Independent Living Services (ILS) program provides financial assistance, through formula grants, to states and territories for providing, expanding, and improving the provision of independent living services. To be eligible to receive financial assistance, states must:
(1) develop, submit and receive approval on a State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL), and
(2) establish and maintain a Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC).
The SILC and the Centers for Independent Living (CILs) within the state develop a State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL), a document required by law that indicates how the state IL Network is going to execute and improve independent living services over the next three years.
Funds are also made available for the provisions of training and technical assistance to SILCs.
The ILS program funding provides resources to the state to support the work of the SILC and the Designated State Entity (DSE), the state entity responsible to receive, account for, and disburse the ILS funds. The remainder of funds may be used for the following activities as reflected in an approved SPIL:
- Providing independent living (IL) services to individuals with significant disabilities, particularly those in unserved areas of the state;
- Demonstrating ways to expand and improve IL services;
- Supporting the operation of CILs;
- Increasing the capacity of public or nonprofit organizations and other entities to develop comprehensive approaches or systems for providing IL services;
- Conducting studies and analyses, developing model policies and procedures, and presenting information, approaches, strategies, findings, conclusions, and recommendations to federal, state, and local policymakers;
- Training individuals with disabilities and individuals providing services to individuals with disabilities and other persons regarding the IL philosophy; and
- Providing outreach to populations that are unserved or underserved by programs under this title, including minority groups and urban and rural populations.
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.
- Centers for Independent Living (CIL) Programs
The Centers for Independent Living (CILs) Program provides 354 discretionary grants to CILs, which are consumer-controlled, community-based, cross-disability, nonresidential, private nonprofit agencies that provide IL services. At a minimum, centers funded by the program are required to provide the following IL core services:- Information and referral;
- IL skills training;
- Peer counseling;
- Individual and systems advocacy; and
- 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.
To continue receiving CIL program funding, eligible centers must demonstrate minimum compliance with the following 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 and, as appropriate, a combination of any other IL service;
- Building community capacity to meet the needs of individuals with significant disabilities; and
- Resource development activities to secure other funding sources.
A population-based formula determines the total funding available for discretionary grants to centers in each state. Subject to the availability of appropriations, 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 State Plan for Independent Living and the availability of sufficient additional funds within the state.
The Independent Living Discretionary Grant Program is authorized Under Title VII, Chapter I, Subchapter C of the Rehabilitation Act, as Amended by the workforce innovation and opportunity act (WIOA) of 2014.
Resources and Useful Links: ILRU website
- CARES Act Annual Program Report
- Submitting State Plans for Independent Living
In April 2020, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approved a new State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL) instrument and instructions. The new SPIL addressed changes to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that result from the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014, 29 U.S.C. 32, and increases the instrument’s and instructions’ clarity, conciseness, and precision. The new SPIL also includes the following:
The new SPIL also includes the following:- The core services that WIOA requires
- An explanation and requirement for the state matching requirement
- Legal basis and certifications, DSE assurances, and SILC assurances
- A chart for the financial plan
- A chart for centers for independent living’s service areas and oversight
- A signatures section.
Please use the link below to open the new SPIL Instrument and Instructions. Contact Regina Blye, ILS Program Officer (PO) by email at Regina.Blye@acl.hhs.gov if you need additional guidance.
- OILP Quarterly Connection
The Office of Independent Living Programs (OILP) is hosting quarterly calls with the network.
Tentative Schedule for Calls (coming soon)
April 3, 2020:
- Compliance and Outcome Monitoring Protocol (COMP)
The Office of Independent Living Programs (OILP) uses a three-tier system to evaluate and monitor Center for Independent Living (CIL) grantees. Tier one includes a grantee dashboard completed over the course of the fiscal year. Tier two reviews focus on specific program(s) or fiscal issues. Tier three are comprehensive program and fiscal reviews. The Compliance and Outcome Monitoring Protocol (COMP) provides transparency and consistency in the oversight of CIL grantees, helps identify training, and technical assistance needs across the network.
The purpose of the COMP is to improve program performance. The OILP relies on the COMP to provide consistent federal oversight of CIL grantees. Grantees may use the COMP to understand program and fiscal requirements and to conduct self-evaluations. Non-federal reviewers will use the COMP as a resource to ensure consistency during onsite reviews.
- Compliance Reviews
FY2021 - TBD
- Blue Water Center for Independent Living (Port Huron, MI)
- The Disability Network (Flint, MI)
- Disability Network West Michigan Center for Independent Living (Muskegon, MI)
- ACL conducted pilot desktop reviews. Pilot reports were not made public.
- Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILCs)
Each state and U.S. territory is required to maintain a statewide independent living council (SILC). The Council and the Centers for Independent Living (CILs) within the state develop a State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL). The SPIL is a document required by law that indicates how the IL Network is going to improve independent living services for individuals with disabilities over the next three years. It identifies the needs and priorities of consumers, providers, and other stakeholders and sets forth goals and objectives to respond to them.
Having a strong network for independent living in a state or territory is crucial. Collaborating on the SPIL development can help create a cohesive and unified vision among all stakeholders who have an interest in issues that impact citizens with disabilities.
- Funding Tables
See funding tables for federal grant funds, provided to each state, under Rehabilitation Act of 1973, As Amended by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
- CIL, SILC, and DSE Guidance
FY 2017-2019 State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL): October 2018
ACL/ILA is in the process of revising the State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL) instrument and instructions. The ILA has engaged in extensive activities during the SPIL revision process that included engagement at SILC Congress and an external ILRU led workgroup comprised of SILC, CIL, NCIL, APRIL, DSE, ILRU, and ILA staff.
Sec. 704(a) of The Rehabilitation Act, as amended requires the review and revision of the SPIL, not less than once every three years, to ensure the existence of appropriate planning, financial support and coordination, and other assistance to appropriately address, on a statewide and comprehensive basis, needs in the state for—
(A) the provision of independent living services in the state;
(B) the development and support of a statewide network of centers for independent living; and
(C) working relationships and collaboration between—
(i) centers for independent living; and
(ii)(I) entities carrying out programs that provide independent living services, including those serving older individuals;
(II) other community-based organizations that provide or coordinate the provision of housing, transportation, employment, information and referral assistance, services, and supports for individuals with significant disabilities; and
(III) entities carrying out other programs providing services for individuals with disabilities.
Because the new SPIL instrument will not be implemented prior to the expiration of the current SPILs, ILA is providing state networks guidance on the process to draft and submit for approval an FY2020 SPIL. State networks will have the option to make either (a) substantial and material changes or (b) technical amendments to the FY2017-FY2019 SPIL in order to develop an FY2020 SPIL.
These options are explained in the guidance Updates and Options for the FY2020 SPIL.
ILA is also please to provide a snapshot of SILC resource plan funding as reported to ILA by state networks for Year One ONLY of the FY2017-FY2019 SPIL. This chart is provided so that state networks can use one another as a resource to determine funding options to support SILC resource plans. Please note that SILCs have the opportunity to receive up to 30% of funds paid to the State for Subchapter B activities and Designated State Entities (DSEs) may receive up to 5%. Amounts in excess of these allowances must be reviewed and approved by the ILA project officer reviewing the SPIL.
ILA recommends that if there are specific questions about a SILC’s resource plan amount or source of funding, contact that state’s SILC for further discussion.
Thank you for your leadership in independent living and your prompt attention to this matter.
Acting Commissioner, Administration on Disabilities
Director, Independent Living Administration
SILC Resource Plan: August 13, 2018
For a State to be eligible to receive financial assistance authorized by the Rehabilitation Act, as amended, Title VII, Chapter I, the State must establish and maintain a Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC). The State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL) provides for establishment of the SILC and a plan for funding the administrative costs of the SILC, referred to as the SILC resource plan. The SILC functions include monitoring, reviewing, and evaluating the implementation of the SPIL. It is critical that SILC autonomy over the SILC resource plan is recognized by the State as necessary to carry out the functions and authorities of the SILC.
ACL recognizes it may be helpful for SILCs, designated state entities (DSE), and other stakeholders to have a common understanding of the SILC resource plan and required SILC autonomy related to the resource plan. The following FAQ is intended to assist in developing a common understanding of the SILC resource plan and SILC autonomy. Download the FAQ on SILC Resource Plans.
Dear Colleague Letter: October 27, 2017
I hope that all of you have enjoyed a relaxing and rejuvenating summer. As we look forward to the coming year, I want to update you on the priorities which I shared with many of you this July at the NCIL conference as well as urge your input on several matters.
On September 11th, ACL’s new Administrator Lance Robertson and several of us on his team met with NCIL leadership to discuss his vision for the agency and key steps we will take to improve the stewardship and effectiveness of the IL programs. These include the following:
Subchapter C Funding Distribution:
In response to ongoing questions and concerns regarding how funding to the CILs is determined and how the funding formula is applied, we are developing a Subchapter C Funding Distribution FAQ to explain the process that ACL follows. We also will host a teleconference on the topic on October 19, 2017 at 1 pm EDT to explain the process as well as provide an opportunity for Q&A and offer feedback to ACL on how we can make the distribution process as easy to understand, fair and transparent as possible. The FAQ will be available prior to the teleconference. Please save the date and time. Further details on how to participate in the call will follow.
On Site Monitoring:I announced this summer, we will resume monitoring efforts late this fall. We have reviewed and are considering making changes to our monitoring protocol and our processes for assuring compliance. To get your feedback on what we are considering, we will be seeking a few CILs to volunteer to have us do on-site visits for the first few we conduct. Volunteering for an onsite review will provide an opportunity for a CIL to be reviewed according to the protocol and if necessary, receive extensive technical assistance in areas of non-compliance prior to a final report being issued. During this period, we will put the protocol through its paces, elicit your input, and make needed tweaks along the way. We will make as many visits moving forward as is reasonable and necessary. I am confident doing these visits, coupled with conducting comprehensive desk reviews and providing targeted technical assistance to CILs, will enhance our stewardship and the quality and value added that the entire network brings to the table. If your CIL, or two or more CILs, in a state would like to volunteer for an on-site visit, please contact your Project Officer by October 15.
Indicators of SILC Minimum Compliance:
We are issuing today the attached Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) indicators of minimum compliance required by WIOA and assurances applicable to both the SILCs and the Designated State Entities (DSEs). ILA will be consulting with the network to develop a plan on setting effective dates for both the indicators and assurances. Please take the opportunity to review and familiarize yourselves with their contents. The document is the product of extensive discussions and hard work by many in the IL Network, ILRU and my staff. We thank you for your joint efforts.
Indicators of CIL Minimum Compliance:
Many have inquired about our intent to issue similar indicators for CILs. Our position is that indicators of minimum compliance for Centers already exist in law and regulations. In the coming months, however, we will seek your input on the value of developing more succinct indicators and measurable outcomes for Centers and Statewide IL Networks. We will develop the questions on this and disseminate them to the network for your responses and suggestions shortly.
Program Performance Report:
As you know, ILA has published and received extensive comments on proposed changes to the Section 704 reporting requirements that Centers must meet annually. Or, what we now refer to as the CIL Program Performance Report (CIL PPR). We recently published a 30-day notice in the Federal Register indicating that we will continue to use the current instrument for the next year. This will allow us time to gather and incorporate additional ideas and recommendations on how we can best develop and use the CIL PPR to track and accurately capture the real life impacts and results that individual Centers and the network as a whole produce at the local, state, and national levels.
Beginning in late October, we will create a working group similar to the one we are using to help revise the State Plans for Independent Living (SPIL). We will provide information on how you can participate or otherwise have input into this discussion in the coming weeks. While the approach to revising the CIL PPR will be participatory, ACL proposes to use a process that it has successfully used for several previous redesigns. This process will be adapted as needed based on feedback from the working group and the network, but it generally involves:
- Close review of previous materials to prevent duplicative efforts;
- Developing a logic model for the Federal CIL program that shows the program resources/inputs, the broad categories of activities that are permissible under the grant program, possible output measures to show the level of each activity, and grantee results/outcomes for communities, populations /individuals as appropriate;
- Based on the outputs and outcomes developed through the logic model process, discussing definitions and measures;
- Selecting a few measures that best highlight the value of ACL’s independent living program and are practical for grantees to collect and report; and
- Creating a draft form that contains qualitative and quantitative measures, and statutory monitoring requirements.
More immediately, we are also on track to resume the regular timelines that PPR data is due in ACL Reporting (ACLR). CIL PPR and/or Independent Living Services (ILS) PPR data must be submitted in ACLR no later than 11:59PM December 31, 2017. Before the end of September, you will receive guidance to assist you in entering CIL PPR and/or ILS PPR data into ACL Reporting.
Highlighting and Building on Results:
One of the things that I hear most often when I speak to the board members, executive directors and staff of CILs and SILCs is your strong desire and recommendation that ACL do all we can to analyze and share the information and data we collect on the results the network helps bring about and ways we can improve on what we do. I want to thank you for expressing these sentiments because they speak volumes about the commitment you bring to your work, and I also want to update you on several steps we are taking on this front.
Your Project Officer (PO) is able to assist with specific program data queries. ACL-MIS holds network PPR data submitted through the FY15 project period. ACL-MIS also holds the 2017-2019 SPILs. ACLR holds network PPR data submitted beginning the project period ending FY16. Because multiple systems currently hold network data, a query request may require manual data retrieval. We thank you in advance for your patience while POs respond to data queries. In the next 6-9 months, those data can be made available on ACL’s interim data presentation site www.AGID.ACL.Gov. We anticipate that the data could be available in early calendar year 2018.
First Annual Report on Centers for Independent Living:
As required by Title VII we will develop and issue the first annual report to the ACL Administrator regarding “the extent to which centers for independent living receiving funds under Subchapter C have complied with the standards and assurances set forth in section 725.” As provided for in Section 710(d) of the Act, the report “may identify individual (CILs) … and shall include … the results of onsite compliance reviews, identifying individual centers for independent living and other recipients of assistance under Subchapter C.” We will issue the first of these reports this coming June. In the meantime, we will consult with the network and others on how we can best develop and disseminate the report each year in order to highlight the real life results Centers and the network as a whole achieve.
Emergency Preparedness and Management:
I know that all of us are concerned by the devastation that the recent hurricanes have brought and could still bring to States and Territories in their path. My staff and I are in regular touch with the Centers, SILCs and DSEs in the areas damaged by the storms. We will be working closely with them and the entire network in the coming weeks and months ahead to provide whatever guidance and assistance we can to enhance the flexibility and capacity of CILs and SILCs to engage in emergency preparedness, response, recovery mitigation efforts.
As you know in July this year we disseminated FAQs on the role of the IL network in all stages of emergency preparedness. We will be adding to these on an ongoing basis. If you have questions or points you believe should be answered or clarified on this topic, please let your Project Officer know so that we can consider how best to address it. I also encourage CILs and SILCs to jointly consider how these FAQs might be used to prepare for and respond to an emergency in your state and please consult with your Project Officer if you have questions or need assistance on this as well.
Thank you for your leadership and commitment to advancing the aims of independent living.
Deputy Commissioner, Administration on Disabilities
Director, Independent Living Administration
Administration for Community Living
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
FY 2017-2019 State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL):
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) are submitted and can be reviewed in the ACL Management Information System. The SPIL must have been 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. As a result of final IL regulations, amendments to the 2017-2019 SPILs will be necessary in some states. ACL is providing guidance to affected states. If you have questions about the SPIL instrument or submission, please contact the project officer for your state.
SILC-NET has developed several SPIL-related resources in coordination with ACL:
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 Subchapter 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.
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.
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 Subchapter 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 Subchapter 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.
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.
- SILC Indicators of Minimum Compliance and DSE Assurances
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) of 2014 requires ACL to develop and publish indicators of minimum compliance for Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILCs).
ILA issued the Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) indicators and Designated state Entity (DSE) Assurances required by WIOA and assurances applicable to both the SILCs and the Designated State Entities (DSEs) on September 27, 2017. ILA will be consulting with the network to develop a plan on setting effective dates for both the indicators and assurances. Please take the opportunity to review and familiarize yourselves with their contents. The document is the product of extensive discussions and hard work by many in the IL Network, ILRU and my staff. We thank you for your joint efforts.
- FAQ: Conflicts of Interest
As part of the Administration for Community Living’s (ACL) ongoing responsibility to ensure the proper stewardship of federal funds, the above frequently asked questions (FAQs) are intended to help grantees identify and avoid actual or perceived personal conflicts of interest. Per HHS Grant Policy, ACL grantees have an obligation to avoid actual or perceived personal conflicts of interest, including nepotism.
This guidance is intended to help ACL grantees understand when conflicts of interest may be a compliance risk. This FAQ is not a comprehensive guide to every circumstance that could be a violation of a grantee’s obligation to avoid personal conflicts of interest. ACL grantees are responsible for understanding the full scope of their legal responsibilities as federal grantees and are strongly encouraged to reach out to ACL program officers with any questions related to conflicts of interest. For the purposes of these FAQs, a “grantee” includes employees acting on behalf of the grantee, and not in their individual capacity.
For purposes of this FAQ, a “Conflict of Interest” is a significant financial interest that could compromise or bias professional judgement and objectivity related to the management of federal financial assistance. A financial interest in this context means potential for gaining, losing, increasing or decreasing a salary, indebtedness, job offer, or other thing of monetary value.
- FAQ: Allowable Advocacy Activities for Federal Grantees
The 1973 Rehabilitation Act as Amended (“the Rehab Act as Amended”), requires Centers of Independent Living (CILs) to perform Core Services, including systems advocacy (29 U.S.C §§ 705(17)(D) & 796f-4(b)(5); defined at 45 C.F.R § 1329.4). ACL and ILA have received several requests for guidance describing allowable advocacy activities to help ensure that CILs and other ACL grantees can best serve their target populations and meet their grant obligations without violating federal law.
Federal laws and regulations prohibit federal grantees, which includes recipients of funding related to the Rehab Act as Amended, from using federal funds to lobby government officials (18 U.S.C. § 1913; 31 U.S.C. § 1352; 2 C.F.R § 200.450).
We have provided the FAQs to help clarify how these laws function for ACL grantees. This guidance is intended to help ACL grantees better understand their rights and obligations. It is not a comprehensive guide to every circumstance that could be a violation of the regulations cited above. ACL grantees are responsible for understanding the full scope of their legal responsibilities as federal grantees, and are strongly encouraged to reach out to ACL program officers with any questions about the appropriate use of federal funds.
For the purposes of these FAQs, a “grantee” includes employees; board members; and council members acting on behalf of the grantee, and not in their individual capacity. Grantees should note that they may not act in their individual capacity while they are also operating in an official capacity. (For example, a grantee could not attend a meeting in an official capacity and avoid anti-lobbying regulations by claiming to speak briefly “in their individual capacity” or “in their personal opinion.”)
- FAQ on Independent Living Subchapter C Funding Distribution
Introductory Note: Each year the Administration for Community Living (ACL) distributes funding to support the Centers for Independent Living (CIL) program as authorized in the Rehabilitation Act, as amended (the Act), Subchapter C Sec. 721. In response to ongoing questions and concerns regarding how funding to the CILs is determined and more specifically, how the funding formula is applied, the following FAQ is provided as guidance to assist in understanding the distribution of Subchapter C funds.
Q1: What are the steps ACL follows to determine annual Subchapter C grant awards to States?
A1: The Act at Section 721 sets forth the program authorization and steps ACL must take to make available appropriated funds to States as authorized by Subchapter C.
Our first step is determining how much is available for grants and other program activities, including training and technical assistance, Section 21 activities, and program support costs. These costs vary but represent about 3 percent of the appropriations amount for Subchapter C. Once this is done, ACL calculates awards to States as follows:
- Applying a population based formula to determine the allotment to each State whose State plan has been approved;
- Applying minimum allotment amounts of $839,761 to States and $95,139 to territories, as appropriate;
- Applying adjustments for inflation, as appropriate;
- Applying proportional reduction, as appropriate; and
- Applying real allotment, as appropriate.
Under certain conditions, i.e., a competed service area does not receive eligible applicants, a State or Territory’s allotment may be used to increase state allotments for such year.
Q2: What are the steps ACL follows to determine annual Subchapter C grant awards to CILs?
A2: Once the grant awards to States is determined, for grants to CILs in states in which federal funding exceeds state funding (Sec.722), ACL is guided by an order of priorities to the extent funds are available:
- Support existing CILs that comply with the standards and assurances set forth in Section 725, at the level of funding for the previous year;
- Provide a cost of living increase for existing CIL; and
- Fund new CILs.
Language in each State’s State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL) sets forth the distribution of State funds to each CIL in the State. Funding formulas set in a SPIL may be Proportionate, Equal or Other. When a State determines a need for SPIL amendments, to include changes to its CIL funding formula, a SPIL amendment must be reviewed and approved by ACL prior to the award continuation process.
Q3: ACL is distributing $12,406 less in Subchapter C funds to CILs on September 30, 2017 than in September 2016. Why is this?
A3: In October 2015, ACL discovered that the IL program had unused ARRA Subchapter C funds from grants awarded in 2010. Those funds expired on September 30, 2015. Some grantees had been told by the Department of Education that the funds would be available for 90 days after the expiration date to reimburse obligations made before that date. Unfortunately, that guidance was not accurate. When the funds expired, they were no longer available to grantees or to ACL. CILs that attempted to draw funds after September 30 to reimburse 2015 expenses were unable to do so. As a result, 19 CILs in 14 states would lose a total of $559,000 if no action was taken.
After careful consideration of the impact to the affected CILs, ACL decided to use current-year funds (FY16) to make up for the shortfall. This reduction in FY16 Subchapter C funding was reflected in the initial allocations that were provided on June 1, 2016.
However, as promised, ACL continued to explore other options to mitigate the impact, and ACL found other resources to offset a significant portion of the shortfall. It was explicitly stated in a “dear colleague” letter last summer however, that this was a one-time event, and that ACL made available resources by waiving the IL program’s share of the costs that would normally be borne by all other ACL programs, including those for program data systems, grants systems, grant review, and the Secretary’s transfer. In addition, because no eligible applicant could be considered for funding a CIL in Guam, the minimum allotment otherwise available to support services in Guam ($95,139) was made available to support existing centers.
When those costs are factored in this year, the result is that the costs are slightly greater in total than the FY16 ARAA amount, resulting in a net of -$12,406 less being available for the Subchapter C grants than we had last year.
Note: These costs may fluctuate from year to year, and as such funding available for grants may vary slightly from year to year.
Q4: Why was the grant awards of some but not all CILs in certain States reduced?
A4: The Subchapter C formula is meant to redistribute funding annually. After the initial distribution was run based on each state/territory’s population percentage, the state/territories who were below the minimum amount had their award amounts increased to the minimum amounts. CILs located within the minimum amount states/territories will also receive the same amounts unless there was a change in the number of CILs within the state/territory.
Q5: How many CILs and States were subjected to these reductions?
A5: Sixteen states had population percentage decreases that resulted in receiving decreased award amounts. One state had population percentage decreases that resulted in receiving decreased award amounts, and 29 states/territories received the minimum award amounts. (See table below for States and Territories in each category).
Q6: Some Subchapter C awards appear to have been reduced in States where population increased or stayed the same. Why?
A6: As a population-based formula, population percentage is factored into the calculation of award amounts. Population percentage is each state/territory’s population figure in comparison to the collective total of all entities. Some states may have seen an increase in their population from the data used in the previous fiscal year. However, when comparing the state/territory’s population to the collective total, the population percentage may not have increased from the previous fiscal year but decreased. This means the percentage of the state population compared to the collective total in FY16 was less than the percentage of the state population compared to the collective total in FY17. The decrease in the population percentages resulted in a reduced award amount for the states and CILs.
Q7: Why didn't ACL take reductions across all Subchapter C awards in respect to the program support costs and Secretary transfer?
A7: After determining how much is available in the aggregate for grant awards, funding for each grant is determined by formula based on statutory and regulatory requirements. Please refer to questions 2 and 3 for more information.
Q8: What factors influenced the reduction to individual grant awards?
A8: As a result of formula driven factors, the total amount for the states receiving increases was $140,461 and the total amount for the states receiving decreases was $152,867. Therefore, the net difference was $12,406.
Q9: What authority does ACL have to use Subchapter C program funds for administrative costs and for the Secretary transfer?
A9: Program support costs including program data systems, grants systems, and grant review costs are allocated to all ACL programs consistent with appropriations language and the budget request. Budget decisions such as the allocation of a Secretarial transfer are made at the program level, not on a grant by grant basis. Specific authority related to the Secretary’s transfer is contained in Section 205 of Division H of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017.
States received increased funding (both population and population percentage increased)
States received decreased funding (population increased but population percentage decreased)
State received decreased funding (both population and population percentage decreased)
“Minimum” states and territories received level funding
District of Columbia
Northern Mariana Islands
- FAQ on Independent Living Services for Children and Youth with Disabilities
May 17, 2017
ACL is pleased to announce the release of Frequently Asked Questions on Independent Living Services for Children and Youth with Disabilities (Youth Services FAQ), which was developed in response to questions from grantees about the provisions for transitions of youth included in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 (WIOA).
WIOA added new “core services” to the missions of centers for independent living that include the transition of youth and young adults with disabilities to postsecondary life once they are no longer receiving a secondary education. WIOA defines youth with a disability to mean “an individual with a disability who is not younger than 14 years of age; and is not older than 24 years of age.” ACL adopted this definition in the final IL regulation.
The Youth Services FAQ is intended to help explain this new core service and provide clarification to grantees about reporting of services provided to youth, which may differ depending on their eligibility for the new services or for other independent living services. We hope it will help centers for independent living design and provide these new core services. If you have specific questions regarding the implementation or reporting of youth services please contact the ILA project officer for your state.
Director, Independent Living Administration
- Annual Reports
2019 Annual Report
On Monday, November 30, 2020, Commissioner of the Administration on Disabilities Julie Hocker submitted the 2019 annual report for the independent living programs, in accordance with Title VII, Chapter I, Part C in the Rehabilitation Act as amended. This report reflects the more than 200,000 individuals who in PY2019 benefited from community-based services to live independently in communities across our nation.
2018 Annual Report
On Monday, March 30, Commissioner of the Administration on Disabilities Julie Hocker submitted the 2018 annual report for the independent living programs, in accordance with Title VII, Chapter I, Part C in the Rehabilitation Act as amended.