Independent Living is controlling and directing your own life. It is about making decisions, taking responsibility for your actions, learning through success and failure, and having opportunities to participate in all aspects of community life. It is exercising the greatest degree of choice about where you live, with whom you live, and how you live. As Judy Heumann said, “Independent living is not doing everything by yourself; rather, it is being in control of how things are done.”
The Freedom Center provides the five core services including, but not limited to:
- Individual and systems advocacy
- Information and referral
- Peer counseling
- Independent living skills training to people with disabilities of all ages and disabilities
- Transition Services
The Freedom Center provides support and services to people with disabilities in Frederick and Carroll Counties. Independent living services and supports include, but are not limited to, equal access, removal of physical and attitudinal barriers, the availability of affordable and accessible housing, availability of accessible transportation, availability of personal assistance services, and equal opportunities for employment.
In addition, education and training that is necessary for living in a community and participating in community activities are offered as IL services. Services are designed to provide resources, training, counseling, or other assistance of substantial benefit in enhancing the independence, productivity, and quality of life of individuals with disabilities. Community awareness programs are available to enhance the understanding and integration of people with disabilities into the mainstream of life. Most importantly, this center includes other services that may be necessary to improve the ability of an individual with a significant disability to function, continue functioning, or move toward functioning independently in the his/her own home, in the family or community.
The following are the services that we offer:
- Information and Referral: We offer up-to-date information and referrals to various sources and agencies within the region and state. We offer information and referral services to all walk-ins and callers.
- Advocacy: We provide advocacy services in order to remove barriers and increase the independence of people with disabilities. We provide individual advocacy services in the following areas of housing, transportation, civil and human rights, education, employment, and more.
- Peer Counseling: Peer counseling offers consumers an opportunity to sit, discuss, and examine their current concerns or issues. Peer counseling assists consumers with achieving their independent living goals by sharing experiences, providing educational resources, and providing support and alliance.
- Independent Living Skills Training: We provide independent living skills training that will assist with achieving the highest level of independence possible. Independent living skills training is done either in a one-on-one or group setting. Some examples of areas we will cover in our independent living skills training are money management, time management, cooking, cleaning, laundry, travel training, and more!
- Transition Services: We provide transition services to assist people with disabilities to transition to the community from nursing homes, prevent nursing home placement, or assist youth with disabilities transitioning from secondary education to work or from secondary education to postsecondary education to work. Our services focus on transitioning to the least restrictive environment and give opportunity to individuals to choose to live in the most integrated setting. Individuals who are living in nursing homes, assisted living, or state facilities will be linked to every service available to maximize independence in their homes for full integration into the community. Our youth transition services provide supports and services to create a smooth transition from the security of school to the opportunities of adult life.
- Independent Living Assistive Technology (ILAT) program: The ILAT program intends to maximize the ability for people with disabilities to live independently through assistance in purchasing various types of assistive technology. Where needed, the IL AT program will pay for such things as aids for daily living, environmental control units (ECU), augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), assistive technology, durable medical equipment, and other devices that Medicaid, Medicare, or other insurers will not provide or cover fully. The ILAT program can assist with the purchase or repair of such assistive technology within the constraints of the individual funding limits. The ILAT program can also help fund certain home and vehicle modifications.
- Workforce Opportunities and Recruitment Club (WORC) program: The WORC program offers social security beneficiaries that are seeking employment an opportunity to volunteer time in our office in order to develop the skills needed to secure employment. WORC members will assist in a variety of administrative tasks that will educate them in areas such as how to work on a schedule, acquire time management skills, work with others in an office, and understand appropriate behavior in the work environment. WORC will facilitate the acquisition of employment once they are ready to transition into paid employment.
- Employment Network: Through our Employment Network, we provide services and support that will allow Social Security beneficiaries to choose work. Social security beneficiaries may assign their tickets to our Employment Network. Once assigned, beneficiaries will have access to meaningful employment to achieve substantial gainful employment and to sustain gainful employment. Our Employment Network offers assistance with job hunting, resume building, job interviewing skills, time management, money management, and more! The Freedom Center also has certified Community Partner Work Incentives Counselors (CPWIC) on staff to provide benefits counseling to all social security beneficiaries that have assigned their ticket.
- Benefits Counseling: We have certified Community Partner Work Incentives Counselors (CPWIC) on staff to offer social security beneficiaries hoping to enter or re-enter the workforce benefits counseling.
- Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) Self-Advocacy Courses: The purpose of our self- advocacy courses is for students to gain knowledge about themselves as young adults with disabilities and how to overcome the barriers presented to them because of their disability. We offer five self-advocacy courses: (1) introduction to self-advocacy called What are my disABILITIES, (2) an advanced self-advocacy course called Becoming a Better Self-Advocate, (3) Advocacy in High School, (4) Advocacy in Postsecondary Education, and (5) Advocacy in a Relationship. To be eligible to participate in these courses students must live in either Frederick or Carroll Counties, be between the ages of 14 and 21, be enrolled in secondary, or post-secondary education, and have a documented disability.
- Voter registration assistance: We offer assistance with completing and submitting the Maryland voter registration application in order to increase persons with disabilities access to voting in local or national elections.