Frequently Asked Questions

Independent Living Services

Youth Leadership Forum

Independent Living Services

Q: What activities do you have for your consumers?

A: There are many activities for consumers to participate in. To let you know what is coming you can have us send you a monthly calendar by email or if you need, by “snail mail”. Each month there are a variety of activities like a “movie advocacy night”, trips to ice cream socials, museums, shopping trips and such. There are monthly housing group meetings, a woman’s group and a men’s group. As our consumers tell us what they want we plan together to make it happen. Let us know what activities you would be interested in.

Q: How much does it cost to get your services?

A: All our core services are free to individuals with disabilities. For the most part all our services are free to consumers. When it comes to home modifications, vehicle modifications and assistive technology we may ask the consumer, their friend and/or family to contribute part or all of the 15% match that we are required to obtain. Based on income, this can also be waived.

Q: How do I become eligible for services?

A: Our CIL services folks in Prince George’s County and Montgomery County. For information and referral, we assist everyone who calls. For the other services, each person must first prove that they have a disability which is usually a simple process. They then will work with an Independent Living (IL) Specialist and will become a consumer by having a case file opened called a CSR (Consumer Service Record). The IL Specialist will work with you to develop the goals you would like to achieve. You and the IL Specialist will work together to accomplish your goals.

Q: What other things does your CIL do?

A: Independence Now has a wide array of services beyond the basic core services:

  • Benefits InfoSource (BIS) is a Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) project which is statewide. Five of our staff have been highly trained by Social Security and passed rigorous certification to become Community Work Incentives Counselors (CWICs). The CWICs are lead by the Project Director who is highly regarded for her knowledge on work incentives. They know the work incentives designed by Social Security to assist a person to attempt work. Depending on which Social Security program you are on, these incentives can include allowing a person to work for a trial work period without loosing their cash benefit or their health insurance including a Maryland work incentive called EID (Employed Individuals with Disabilities). Our CWICs can give you a written benefits analysis to provide you all the information you need (that is specific to you) prior to choosing to return to work.
  • Money Follows the Person (MFP) is a new project where we contract with individuals with disabilities to visit Medicaid eligible individuals who reside in nursing faculties and tell them that they have a choice as to continue living in a facility or opt to move into the community and retain all the supports they needs to live a life rich with choices. There are about 25 Peer Outreach Partners trained to begin this work in July 2009.
  • Youth Leadership Forum (YLF) is a statewide project to serve High School students who are rising Juniors and Seniors with a week-long experience to learn leadership and self advocacy skills while living on a college campus for the week. The function is supported by volunteer staff who are former YLF participants. These YLF alumni are also supported throughout the year with several activities to strengthen their skills and knowledge base and stay connected with each other.
  •  MOD Squad – this project allows for a variety of minor home and bathroom accessibility construction, vehicle modifications, durable medical equipment including assistive technology both low tech and high tech and the training necessary for its effective use.
  •  Travel Training – Individuals who require intensive training to successfully and safely use the fixed route transportation system for both going to work and to fully participate in their community receive intensive and individually designed one-on-one training.

Q: Where do you get your funding?

A: We are fortunate to receive a wide variety of financial supports, here is a partial list:

  • U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services, Rehabilitative Services Administration (RSA)
  • Social Security Administration (SSA)
  • Maryland Department of Education, Division of Special Education and Early Intervention
  • Maryland Department of Education, Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS)
  • Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH)
  • Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT)
  • Maryland Department of Disability (MDOD)
  • Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC)
  • Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) (JARC) (Freedom)
  • Prince George’s County Department of Housing and Community Development (PGDHCD)
  • Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (MCDHHS)
  • Resource Connections
  • TranCen
  • John Ben Snow Foundation
  • Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Foundation
  • Combined Federal Campaign (CFC)
  • Donations from our friends

Q: As an independent living center do you provide residential services?

A: No, we are a grassroots organization run by people with disabilities for the purpose of helping, supporting, and empowering our peers with disabilities. As a Center for Independent Living

(CIL) our four core services are:

  1. Information and referral
  2. Advocacy; both teaching self advocacy and system advocacy and providing support as a person learns to advocate for themselves.
  3. Independent living skills training.
  4. Peer counseling.

Youth Leadership Forum

Q. Where is the YLF held?

A. At Towson State University. The students and staff live in the dorm. Students get their first taste of college life.

Towson University with black and gold

Q. Is there a cost to attend?

A. No, it is sponsored by the Maryland State Department of Education and numerous other groups.

no money sign            free sign  

Q. Can you accommodate a deaf student?

A. Yes, we have 2 sign language interpreters with the YLF from 8 am – 11 pm each day.

American Sign Language Symbol for interpreters

Q. How many years has this program been in existence?

A. 12 years. We began in 2000 and now have over 200 alumni from the Maryland Youth Leadership Forum.


Q. I’m thinking about referring a student with a physical disability who requires a lot of personal care. Can you handle that?

A. Yes, we contract with an agency to provide as much personal care as the students need. We have had students who require total care and need to be turned during the night. We also have a Registered Nurse with the YLF - 24/7.


What makes the YLF special?

  • Almost all staff are successful adults with various disabilities – there are an abundance of role models and mentors at the YLF.
  • It is a totally accepting environment, free of teasing and various other pressures that students with disabilities experience on a daily basis.
  • Students are introduced to the history of the disability rights movement in this country and to resources that they can use in the future to assure their success.
  • Students come to the YLF well aware of the negative stereotypes of disability in our society. They leave understanding that there are no limits to the success they can achieve.

dare to dream