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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Independent Living & The Rehabilitation Act

Action Alert: Tell Congress to Include People with Disabilities in Their COVID-19 Response!

Last night the Families First Coronavirus Response Act was signed into law after it passed through the Senate late in the day. The Families First Act increases Medicaid funding through a 6.2% FMAP (Federal Medical Assistance Percentage) increase, provides free COVID-19 testing, provides for some emergency paid sick and family leave, expands food assistance, and expands unemployment benefits.

This comes after Congress passed the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act on March 6. Through that, Congress provided $8.3 billion in emergency funding to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both of those were good first steps. However, there are major gaps in the legislative response to the pandemic, and Congress is already working on a third response bill. It is critical that all future legislation addresses the needs of people with disabilities. Disabled people are at disproportionate risk of severe symptoms and complications from COVID-19, and we need to be a part of the COVID-19 response!

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COVID-19 Updates: What’s New at

Source: Administration for Community Living (ACL)

Thank you to the aging and disability networks for continuing to share the resources you’re creating for the people we serve. We have added several of them to our COVID-19 page on since our last update. Please keep them coming!

We’ve also updated information about cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. CDC says that current evident suggests that the virus is may remain viable on a variety of surfaces for hours to days. Although transmission of the virus to people from contaminated surfaces has not been documented, CDC recommends routine cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces as a general precaution.

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Urge Your Members of Congress to Support Funding for CILs in the Next COVID-19 Package!

NCIL has been closely monitoring and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have been working to provide tools and resources to the Independent Living network; engaging with partner organizations, Congress, and the ILA; and continuing to advocate for the needs of people with disabilities across the country.

Earlier this week NCIL sent a request to the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS-Ed). NCIL requested $100 million for Centers for Independent Living (CILs) in the next COVID-19 response package. Read the letter.

CILs around the country have been actively responding to the needs of disabled people in their communities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. CILs are coordinating services, providing information and referrals, helping people avoid involuntary institutionalization, and advocating for the disability community’s rights and evolving needs during this crisis. People with disabilities are at disproportionate risk during this pandemic, and all around the country, CILs are working – on their own, and with community partners and governments – to ensure people with disabilities survive. Read the letter to see some examples of what CILs around the country are doing in response to COVID-19.

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Funds and Guidance Available to CILs to Operate Food Pantries

Food insecurity disproportionately impacts people with disabilities, and barriers to accessing food have already been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. A small number of Centers for Independent Living (CILs) have been able to assist disabled people in their communities by operating food pantries, and Portlight Strategies ( and Kelly’s Kitchen ( would like to help expand this capacity.

If your CIL has or would like to start a food pantry in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, please fill out the online form. If your CIL currently has a food pantry, Portlight Strategies and Kelly’s Kitchen may be able to provide financial support; if your CIL is interested in starting a food pantry, they can provide guidance and money to do so.

COVID-19 Update from the Administration for Community Living

Source: Office of Independent Living Programs, Administration for Community Living

Dear Colleagues,

Across the country States, communities, and businesses are struggling to identify best practices in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In accordance with the Office of Personnel Management, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) staff are exercising maximum telework opportunities as the greater DC community is impacted by COVID-19.

The Office of Independent Living Programs (OILP) is actively working with our Administration on Disabilities (AoD) program partners, Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL), the National Independent Living Council (NCIL), the National Association of Statewide Independent Living Councils (NASILC), and IL-NET at ILRU to provide resources that are relevant to the independent living network. If you have resources you have developed or identified as helpful to the network please feel free to send them directly to me to be shared with others. We are actively working on a mechanism for the network to share good practices and ideas during the COVID-19 response.

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IL-NET Presents… A National Webinar: Operating Independent Living Programs in the Face of Coronavirus – A Q&A Session for CILs and SILCs

Friday, March 20, 2020; 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. Eastern

Register online

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Registration has re-opened for this event. We had reached our maximum capacity, but we have worked with our webinar provider to increase our capacity and can now accept additional participants.  Registration will close at Noon Eastern on Friday, March 20. 

The IL-NET National Training & Technical Assistance Center is offering a Q&A session with a panel of peers and experts, including public health experts, Center for Independent Living (CIL) and Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) Directors from communities impacted by Coronavirus / COVID-19, and experts in emergency preparedness for people with disabilities.

We all have questions related to the Coronavirus, but none of the media response or broader expert guidance details how community-based, disability-rights groups like CILs and SILCs should respond. Our panel of peers and experts will share their guidance and answer your questions about operating Independent Living programs and providing services during the epidemic.

You won’t want to miss this important webinar. Sign-up Today!

Registration: This event is free-of-charge. Registration must be completed by 12:00 Noon Eastern on March 20, 2020.

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Action Alert: Oppose the Proposed Independent Living Changes in the President’s Budget

Last week we sent out an information alert with information about cuts and harmful proposed changes to the Independent Living (IL) Program in the President’s 2021 Budget.

As a reminder, the budget includes a $7.5 million cut to Part B funding. It also includes a $5 million increase to Part C funding, but those funds are reserved for competitive employment grants.

Importantly, there are also three legislative proposals related to the IL Program:

  • The first proposal would allow funds currently appropriated for training and technical assistance (T/TA) to be used for program evaluation and performance measurement.
  • The second proposal would remove the requirement for any reviews of Centers for Independent Living (CILs) to be conducted onsite.
  • The final proposal would allow the Administration for Community Living (ACL) to stop contracting out for T/TA.

All three proposals are bad ideas and would all harm the IL Program. Regarding the first proposal, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) states that the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shall ensure the Independent Living Administration (ILA) has sufficient resources to provide technical assistance, support, and oversight. If ILA leadership does not believe they have sufficient funds to carry out their responsibilities, they should be asking for more funding rather than reallocating funding from one important duty to another.

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SPIL Instrument and Instructions Posted to Federal Register: Submit Comments by March 9, 2020

ACL has announced that the new State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL) instrument and instructions were published in the Federal Register. The document is available for comments through March 9, 2020. You can find the instrument and instructions at

After the comment period has closed, ACL will review the comments and release the final SPIL instrument and instructions. The new instrument must be used to complete the FY 2021 – FY 2023 SPIL. The SPIL must be submitted to ACL for review and approval by June 30, 2020.

Comments can be submitted:

  • By email to, Attn: OMB Desk Officer for ACL;
  • By fax for (202) 395-5806, Attn: OMB Desk Officer for ACL; or
  • By mail to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, OMB, New Executive Office Bldg., 725 17th St. NW, Rm. 10235, Washington, DC 20503, Attn: OMB Desk Officer for ACL.

You can read the full email ACL sent to the network on Friday below. It has additional information and instructions.

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IL-NET Presents… A Two-Part Webinar Series: Ready for Review – Using ACL’s Compliance & Outcome Monitoring Protocol (COMP) Tool to Achieve Excellence

  • Part 1: March 31, 2020; 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. Eastern
  • Part 2: April 1, 2020; 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. Eastern
  • Register online

The Office of Independent Living Programs (OILP) recently released the Compliance and Outcome Monitoring Protocol (COMP) Tool for Centers for Independent Living (CILs). The COMP tool was created to assist CILs to improve program performance; to understand how OILP is monitoring CIL performance; and to conduct self-assessments to prepare for desk audits, onsite reviews, or for internal reviews. Join us for this free, two-part webinar series to learn exactly what is included in the COMP tool and how you can use it at your CIL.

Registration Fee: This event is free-of-charge.

Target Audience: Executive directors, program managers, and board members of centers for independent living.

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Information Alert: Proposed Independent Living Changes in the President’s Budget

Earlier this week, the President released his 2021 Budget. The budget includes a $7.5 million cut to Part B funding. It also includes a $5 million increase to Part C funding, but those funds are reserved for competitive employment grants. Specifically, the budget would use that $5 million “to test evidence-based models of employment training and support that could be adopted by Centers for Independent Living to improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities”.

The budget includes major cuts to many critical programs disabled people rely on, including Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, and others. It also includes cuts to several important disability programs within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), including (but not limited to) NIDILRR (the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research), State Councils on Developmental Disabilities, University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs), and eliminates the Assistive Technology Alternative Financing Programs.

It is important to note that this is only a proposal, and Congress is unlikely to include many of these proposals in their appropriations bills. However, it does provide insight into what the President’s priorities are. It also gives us additional insight into the areas we’ll likely have to continue fighting for.

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