Peer Counseling is a Core Service that RCIL offers to people with disabilities.  RCIL helps them connect with other people who have, or have experienced, a disability by hosting an online RCIL Friends group once a month.  The group meets virtually via Zoom on the fourth Tuesday of each month from 2:00pm – 3:00pm.  They discuss disability related topics such as health and wellness, safety, transportation, housing, and direct support worker concerns.  Individuals can participate in the meeting using their computer, tablet, smartphone, or their phone.  Are you interested to join?  Contact RCIL at 785-528-3105 to sign up and to attend the next online RCIL Friends group meeting on February 23, 2021 at 2:00pm.  We will be discussing about the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) and utility resources.

This blog entry was adapted from information provided by the Statewide Independent Living Council of Kansas (SILCK)

RCIL is one of 13 Centers for Independent Living (CIL) in Kansas. The expenditure for CILs across the state is approximately $2.7M federal and state funds. For over 30 years, CILs have helped thousands of Kansans with disabilities live on their own, find work, raise families and become active, autonomous members of their communities.

The opportunity for disabled people to become independent is the crux of the CILs mission, allowing persons with disabilities to live by themselves, get married, find a job – anything they want to do – in order to be out on their own and make their own choices and live their own lives.

CILs are run almost solely by persons with disabilities showing those they serve exactly what they are capable of is a great example of the peer approach that sets CIL’s apart from other organizations.

CILs give their practical experience on how people with disabilities live their lives, and how they can be independent, make choices, and take control of their life. Too often, people with disabilities when they’re growing up, may have people taking care of them, albeit well-intended, what happens is you raise people who can’t make their own decisions. CILs help people with disabilities figure out how to make their own decisions and how to take charge of their lives.

The Core Services Provided by All Centers for Independent Living are:

  • Individual and Systems Advocacy, assistance with individual human rights issues as well as making system changes on a larger scale for people with disabilities as a whole.
  • Information and Referral Services, information on specific disability related topics are referred to the appropriate work area of the CIL or another agency.
  • Peer Counseling, an individual with a disability mentors, counsels and /or acts as a role model to another individual with a disability about a variety of issues.
  • Independent Living Skills Training, basic life skills training such as cooking, budgeting, transportation skills and social skills.

These basic services are provided to any Kansan who walks through the door of any CIL and without cost. This array is truly one stop shopping. In the course of a an average month the 12 centers will see over 9,000 persons at annual cost of $2.7M/(AF) which amounts to $377/person/yr.

The Resource Center for Independent Living (RCIL) strives to be a good steward of the federal and state monies we receive to work with individuals with disabilities to become empowered productive members of society. This investment in our local communities and state enriches the lives of not only those in the disability community but our family, friends, neighbors, and businesses.

As a Center for Independent Living (CIL), RCIL is committed to working with Kansans with disabilities to enable them to live independently in their homes and communities. But what exactly does that mean?

In Kansas, Centers for Independent Living are tasked with providing 5 core services. They are Information and Referral, Peer Counseling, Independent Living Skills Training, Advocacy – both Individual Advocacy and Systems Advocacy, and Deinstitutionalization. At RCIL, we work very hard to ensure that these 5 Independent Living Core Services are front and center in our service delivery.

Information and Referral is provided by every staff member at RCIL, it is simply getting our consumers the information they need and request regarding disability, community resources and making appropriate referrals to other agencies as needed. We have an Information and Referral team that is available to take phone calls every business day, follows up on all contacts, and works to ensure that each person who contacts us ends up with the information they need.

Peer Counseling is the opportunity for Kansans with disabilities to work with and learn from other Kansans with disabilities. RCIL facilitates this in several ways. We have RCIL Friends group meetings monthly that bring together consumers and their peers in a consumer driven support group. RCIL also employs Peer Specialists to work directly with consumers to help them live independently in their communities. For example, a Peer Specialist may assist a consumer with learning the Public Transit system. In this way people with disabilities are assisting other people with disabilities and the Peer connection helps to ensure success.

Independent Living Skills Training encompasses a lot of different things! RCIL offers this training through Independent Living Specialists as well as Peer Specialists. We work with consumers on things like budgeting, locating and using assistive devices, finding accessible housing, assistance with finding employment, navigating the health and insurance systems, and other topics as needed.

The two different types of Advocacy that RCIL provides are Individual Advocacy and Systems Advocacy. RCIL provides training and support for individuals to be able to advocate for their own needs and desires. This can be across many areas including employment, health care, housing, or education. Systems Advocacy is focused on changing the laws and policies at community, state, and federal levels.

Our final Core Service is Deinstitutionalization. This is simply assisting Kansans with disabilities to reintegrate back into their communities from hospitals, nursing facilities, or in patient rehabilitation facilities. Consumers have a choice about where they live and receive services and we make sure that they are knowledgeable about their options and support them in transitioning.

While we provide many other services, these 5 Core Services are what make us a Center for Independent Living. These services are provided free of charge to our consumers. We are an agency delivering services for Kansans with disabilities by Kansans with disabilities.