MCIL has been in existence only since 1981. In the course of ten years, however, the agency has matured into its present role as a solid resource for people with disabilities. It continues to find new ways to serve the community and is constantly trying to improve on present services. Located at 1619 Dayton Ave. in St. Paul, the agency can be reached by telephone (612) 646-8342 Voice/TDD.
ACCESS PRESS asked the staff at MCIL to give us a better idea of the mission of the agency and the programs they provide or contemplate providing. The following is their answer:
The Center offers services to assist people with severe disabilities to achieve, maintain, or improve upon an independent lifestyle. The Center staff and program participants work to understand and confront the possibilities and realities of independent living. The Center’s philosophy is that through an examination of abilities, needs and desires, together with a knowledge of available resources, individuals can take power over their lives and participate to their fullest potential in the community.
The Independent Living Philosophy
A fundamental characteristic of the Metropolitan Center for Independent Living is its philosophy:
1. Persons with disabilities should have control of their lives. They have the right and responsibility to make choices and act on their choices.
2. The role of the Center is to support and empower the individual.
3. Persons with disabilities should have a substantial role in the operation of the Center, including a majority of the Board and a majority of the employees being persons with disabilities.
4. The Center is non-residential community focused and actively involved in the community, and establishes relationships with other organizations. It is important for the Center to provide community advocacy.
5. The context of the Center within its own programs and in community activities should be inclusion, supporting activities which allow options for the individual.
The peer support concept is the very essence of the independent living philosophy. The best resource for a person with a disability who is striving toward greater independence is the support of another person with a similar disability who has been through the process and can assist through the steps.
Under the MCIL Peer Support program, after training a person with a disability who has had success becoming more independent is match with a peer consumer who is attempting to address barriers to independence. The support provided by the support person allows freedom and control by the consumer and ensures that the responsibility is not taken away from the individual.
Information and Referral
The MCIL has been working with all other CILs in Minnesota, as well as the State Services for the Blind and the Minnesota Council on Disability, in coordinating a statewide I & R database that focuses on disability issues. In the past year, MCIL has received 3400 requests for information, 1250 of which were referred by other organizations. The Center uses the common database in Rochester, Minnesota which provides information on resources throughout Minnesota, as well as a local database on their own premises.
The Transition program at MCIL is focused on working with students and young adults, assisting teachers in addressing their students’ futures, and in proceeding toward the development of an independent living transition facility training program. Our transition staff works with members of the Community Transition Interagency Committees throughout the metropolitan area. Other staff members serve on a variety of those committees. The intent of the transition program is to expand the choice and options for younger persons moving from the relatively sheltered home and school setting to the world of new possibilities and greater independence.
The Attendant Care activities at MCIL have centered around providing direct attendant care to 25 consumers, training attendants in PCA care and consumers in management skills, and protecting the rights of consumers of PCA services. An MCIL staff member is active in the Home Care Advisory Task Force with the Minnesota Department of Human Services, assisting in the development of new rules which will direct the operation of the PCA program. The focus in the future will be an increasing effort to empower individuals by furthering their understanding of their rights and helping them to improve upon their ability to direct their own care. Programs for consumers of PCA service are now offered five times annually.
Independent Living Skills
The Independent Living Skills program is central to the purpose of the Center. MCIL has held classes and provided training on an individual basis in a variety of areas of independent living, including Budgeting, Personal Care Management, Transportation, Equipment Repair, Housing Rights, Access, and Weight Control. This is an area which involves all members of the staff at MCIL.
The MCIL Housing effort has gotten into high gear this past year with the addition of two staff to equal a full time position. The additional staff, along with an intern, has allowed the Center to organize its housing database and to provide more complete and accurate information to persons who are looking for affordable adapted housing in the metro area. Our ultimate goal is to assist persons with disabilities by matching them with currently vacant housing which best suit the parameters they set. The role of the housing program is to expand the number of affordable accessible housing units, by encouraging landlord cooperation and lobbying for legislative incentives.
Used Equipment Referral
The Used Equipment Referral Service, which was begun with the help of the United Cerebral Palsy in 1983, is one of the most highly used programs at the Center. The concept of recycling quality adaptive equipment and serving as an outlet for those who no longer need an item makes good economic sense. This service of the Center allows persons who cannot afford new equipment to improve their independence with the aid of a less costly alternative. Equipment categories included in the UER are: Ambulatory Devices, Three Wheelers, Bathroom Equipment, Hospital Beds, Hoyer Lifts, Ramps for homes, Stair Elevators, Vans and lifts for vans, Power and Manual Wheelchairs and equipment designed for children.
The role of MCIL is to increase the ability of persons with disabilities to speak on their own behalf. Through education on the options and alternatives available, the person can decide which are viable and, with the help of Center staff, can work toward attaining those alternatives. The Center has focused its advocacy efforts in the areas of Personal Care Attendant services and public transportation.
Information for Independence
With the belief that information is power, the Center has developed a series of fact sheets summarizing various aspects of specific topics. These fact sheets are titled “Information for Independence”, and are available on request at the office.
The Center is embarking on a concerted effort to increase our role in the area of accessibility. The focus of our activities centers on three areas.
1. The Access Project involves recruiting volunteers in all communities to survey public places to determine the level of accessibility. With the information provided by the volunteers the center will be able to help persons searching for an accessible restaurant or theater to find one which will accommodate their needs.
2. The Community Access Partnership is a beginning joint effort with the Minnesota Multiple Sclerosis Society. Its thrust is to arrange for center staff to help businesses in the area plan modifications and adaptations to be more accessible and to help with the interpretation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
3. The RAMP Project, a joint effort with the United Handicapped Federation and the Minnesota Division of Rehabilitation Services, is intended to evaluate, design and construct a safe and useful means of access to a person’s private home. The use of an accessibility specialist and the help of local volunteers stretch limited funds and allow more individuals to stay in their own homes.