Independent Living Centers

CIL Frequently Asked Questions:

What is a Center for Independent Living (CIL)?
Centers are non-profit organizations which assists seniors and people with disabilities who want to increase personal freedom and live more independently. CILs are managed and staffed by people with disabilities, are located in the communities they serve, and assist people with all types of disabilities.

How do CILs assist people?
The foundation of CIL Services is the peer relationship – people with disabilities assisting other people with disabilities as role models, mentors, and partners. Each Center is unique because it offers services based upon the particular needs of its community. At the same time, Centers are alike in that they all offer these services: Information and Referral, Peer Support, Individual and Community Advocacy, and Independent Living Skills Training.

How many Centers are there in the US?
Currently, there are 340 Centers for independent living, with more than 224 satellite locations. A center’s service area may be one county or a dozen. According to the Rural Institute on Disabilities, CILs cover an average of 5.76 counties. Today, 60% (1,911) of our nation’s counties receive service from a CIL.

How are CILs funded?
The 1978 reauthorization of the Rehabilitation Act included funding for independent living and the establishment of Centers for Independent Living around the country. Ten states were funded during the first of the independent living monies. In 2000, approximately 260 CILs were funded. Approximately 100 CILs also receive funding through state money. Delta Center is one of these.


Why were CILs established?
CILs were established in the early 1970’s when Ed Roberts and other students with disabilities from the University of California at Berkeley, along with disability advocates led by Judy Heumann, demanded control over their lives and full access in their communities. Due to these efforts, Ed Roberts was a pioneer in the Independent Living Movement and was known internationally as the “Father of Independent Living”.

The development and expansion of CILs and the Independent Living Movement has been influenced by a Social and Civil Rights Movement that viewed the continuation of discrimination, patronizing and unjust treatment of people with disabilities as intolerable.

This movement is not unlike the movement of other people seeking independence. It is a struggle by those with disabilities to control their lives, to have equal access to the decision-making process in their communities, states and nation, to be protected from discrimination under the law, and to be seen as equals by society.

The empowerment of people with disabilities has evolved significantly during the past 30 years. CILs have played the leading role in this evolution of disability rights and the Independent Living Movement. CILs, which provide systems advocacy and other services and opportunities, promote the Independent Living Philosophy of consumer choice. They concentrate their efforts to ensure that people with disabilities have options and consumer directed services within their community. CILs also work towards the removal of attitudinal and physical barriers throughout society.

Other Centers for Independent Living

For a full listing of CILs in the state of Missouri (in Alphabetical Order), please visit

Delta Center increases Personal Freedom & Independence for persons with disabilities

Delta Center partners with people with disabilities and their communities to remove barriers and promote positive changes leading to greater independence.
We envision a world of acceptance, access, independence and self-determination for all.