Independent Living Centers and Students with Disabilities Team Up to Pave the Way to School Success

Aug 25, 2015, 11:00 ET from California State Independent Living Council (SILC)

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Aug. 25, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Amid the frenzy of school shopping and signing up for classes and activities, students with disabilities and their families are joining forces with California Independent Living Centers, such as Community Access Center (CAC) in Riverside, to ensure students receive everything they need for their academic success. CAC offers students of all ages individualized programs and support services for tackling the hurdles that interfere with learning and ultimate independence.

"Our mission is to empower persons with disabilities to control their own lives and achieve complete social, economic and political integration," explained CAC Programs Director Faustino Alvarez. "By supporting young people early on, we help pave the way to their independence as adults."

CAC starts to pave the way by representing parents on their children's Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) or 504 Plans to ensure specific needs are met in school for accommodations, modifications and other services such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, vision therapy and assistive technology. While in school, CAC staff continually advocates for students to remain in school and interfaces with the Department of Rehabilitation. CAC also works closely with the Inland Regional Center (IRC), which serves individuals with developmental disabilities in San Bernardino and Riverside counties, including in-home behavioral interventions for families.

As students near graduation, CAC works with them on completing college and financial aid applications and assists with job searches. And when students move from one school to another or from high school to college, CAC staff is available to facilitate those transitions.

"We attend transition meetings at new schools with parents and encourage them to talk to their children about what to expect and help them meet new friends," said Alvarez. "This is particularly important for children who do not deal well with change. And we accompany college students to their campuses and introduce them to programs and services for students with disabilities."

When asked about what could be improved for students with disabilities, Alvarez highlighted the growing demand for skilled individuals who can effectively collaborate with one another and partner with the students for a successful educational outcome. He also cited the length of time students must spend on buses to be transported to other locations for special education classes.

"Our team wears many hats to make certain someone is always available to partner with each child to ensure she or he is heard and receives appropriate assistance," concluded Alvarez. "I've witnessed so many successes with the students we've served. Personally, I live for the work I do."

"California Independent Living Centers offer a variety of resources for students," noted California State Independent Living Council Executive Director Liz Pazdral. "Preparing children with disabilities to live independently is one of their top priorities."

The SILC is an independent state agency which, in cooperation with the California Department of Rehabilitation, prepares and monitors the State Plan for Independent Living.

The SILC Mission: To Create Policy and System Change for Independent Living

SOURCE California State Independent Living Council (SILC)