News From LINC

A Brief History of Independent Living in Idaho


The 1960’s saw the birth of a number of social movements.  These movements included the civil rights movement, consumerism, the rise of self-help groups, the de-medicalization of disability-related services, and de-institutionalization.  In the late 1960’s, these social movements inspired the independent living movement for people with disabilities, and resulted in the creation of an organization called the Center for Independent Living in Berkeley, California.  During the 1970’s, similar organizations were started in other states.  Now commonly referred to as CILs, centers for independent living are usually described as consumer-controlled, cross-disability, community-based, non-residential, not-for-profit organizations that provide both individualized services and systems advocacy. 

Consumer-controlled means that people with disabilities are able to make choices and decisions, take risks, and have personal control over services and the organizations that provide those services.  A majority of the Board of Directors and staff of a CIL are people with disabilities.

Cross-disability means that CILs provide services to people with any type of disability, and that people with any type of a disability are involved in the governance and operation of the CIL. 

Community-based means that CIL’s are freestanding organizations located in the communities they serve, and not part of rehabilitation hospitals or state agencies.

Non-residential means that CILs do not own or operate residential facilities such as group homes or assisted living facilities.

In 1978, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was amended to fund Comprehensive Services for Independent Living, which provided grants to organizations in all states to create CILs.  Usually, these federal grant funds were awarded to state agencies such as Vocational Rehabilitation, which then made grants to non-profit organizations to operate as CILs.  In some cases, federal grants were made directly to non-profit organizations. 

Idaho Centers for Independent Living

In the early 1980’s, the Idaho Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (IDVR) used federal grants to fund two CILs in Idaho:  Stepping Stones, Inc. in Moscow, and Dawn Enterprises in Blackfoot.  The federal government also gave a grant to the Center of Resources for Independent People in Pocatello, which brought the total of CILs in Idaho to three.

By the late 1980’s it became apparent that more CILs were needed.  When additional federal funds became available, the Idaho Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ICBVI) was awarded a grant to fund a new CIL.  When the money became available in 1988, the Living Independence Network Corporation (LINC) was formed, and offices in both Boise and Twin Falls were opened in 1989.

The mid-1990’s witnessed the continued growth of independent living in Idaho. With input from a wide variety of individuals and disability-related organizations, the State Independent Living Council (SILC) was formed by executive order of the Governor in 1993.  As in other states, the Idaho SILC helps develop and coordinate a state plan for independent living, provides advocacy for systems change, and supports the activities and programs of the CILs in Idaho.  Like the CILs, the SILC is cross-disability and consumer controlled.  At about the same time, the federal grants for CILs ceased to “pass through” state agencies like IDVR and ICBVI, and the CILs in Idaho began to receive these grant funds directly.

Stepping Stones, Inc., in Moscow, which operated other programs such as group homes and transitional living apartments, decided to “spin off” the CIL part of the organization in the early 1990’s.  This led to the creation of a freestanding, non-profit CIL that is now known as the Disability Action Center Northwest (DAC).

Dawn Enterprises, in Blackfoot, followed suit several years later, and the Eastern Idaho Center for Independence (EICI) was formed.  Shortly thereafter, EICI in Blackfoot merged with the Center of Resources for Independent People in Pocatello to become Living Independently For Everyone (LIFE).

In order to create more opportunities for independent living in other communities, the Idaho SILC helped obtain and provide funding for DAC to open an office in Coeur d’Alene, and for LINC to start an office in Caldwell.

As of 2008, there are now three centers for independent living in Idaho, and each has several offices.  LIFE has offices in Pocatello, Blackfoot, Idaho Falls, and Burley.  DAC has offices in Moscow, Lewiston, and Coeur d’Alene.  LINC has offices in Boise, Twin Falls, and Caldwell.

CIL Services

Although each CIL operates a little differently, based on the needs of the communities where they are located, all provide the same four core services:

Information and Referral to enable people with disabilities, family members, and the community in general to understand and access services,

Peer Counseling that uses the knowledge and life experiences of people with disabilities to benefit, support, and advise one another,

Independent Living Services to assist people with disabilities to identify and attain their own individual independent living goals,

Individual and Systems Advocacy to empower people with disabilities so they can exercise control over their lives and living situations, and to change service systems and policies to be more responsive and less discriminatory,

And as of 2015, the 5th core service:

Transition services assist people with disabilities to move from institutional placement into community living, help prevent institutionalization in the first place, and assist post-secondary youth who had or were eligible for an individualized education plan (IEP) to transition into the community.

CILs also provide a wide range of community service activities, such as presentations, workshops, community initiatives, technical assistance, and resource development.  They work collaboratively with many other agencies and organizations, help develop and pass legislation, and promote public awareness

LINC has three offices to serve you.

1182 Eastland Drive North
Suite C
Twin Falls ID 83301
(208) 733-1712 VOICE
(208) 733-7711 TDD

1878 West Overland Road
Boise ID 83705
(208) 336-3335 VOICE
(208) 336-3335 TDD
(208) 384-5037 FAX

4110 Eaton Avenue
Caldwell ID 83605
(208) 454-5511 VOICE
(208) 454-5511 TDD
(208) 454-5515 FAX