The History of The Center for Independent Living of North Central Florida (CILNCF) involves 35 years of service by people with disabilities for people with disabilities. The CILNCF is a locally controlled, consumer driven, community based, non-residential, 501(C)3 private not-for-profit organization headquartered in Gainesville, Florida. The CILNCF serves 16 counties in the North Central Florida region from two locations. Our organization provides services to individuals on a cross-disability basis and is consumer-controlled, having at least 51% people with disabilities comprising both governing board of directors as well as staff. Our center delivers the five-core services of the Independent Living Program which includes Advocacy, Information and Referral, Peer Support, Independent Living Skills Education, and Transition. The CILNCF has several other programs complimenting these five-core services.
We provide services through partnerships with the Department of Education, the Department of Health, Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Program, as well as the Alachua, Bradford, Citrus, Levy, Marion and Putnam County School Boards. In addition, we are presently the only coordinator of sign language interpreting services for Alachua and surrounding counties and have on staff several highly qualified sign language interpreters. The CILNCF is also partnered with Florida Telecommunications and Relay, Inc. (FTRI) and is the designated Regional Distribution Center (RDC) of specialized telecommunications equipment. With this program the CILNCF provides communication access to people who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf/blind, and speech-impaired residing in North Central Florida.
Further, our organization has developed intensive programming for youth with disabilities. The CILNCF operates a High School High Tech Program at six (6) area high schools in five (5) school districts here in North Central Florida. High School High Tech (HSHT) was developed out of concern that too few students, especially those with disabilities, were being prepared for technology-based careers. Like other HSHT programs throughout the state, our program is designed to provide young people with all types of disabilities the opportunity to explore jobs and postsecondary education leading to technology-related careers. Locally, it is a community-based partnership made up of students, parents and caregivers, businesses, educators and rehabilitation professionals.
The CILNCF also operates an Employment Services Program in partnership with the Department of Education, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services. We currently are contracted for Vocational Evaluations, Supported and Competitive Employment Services. The Competitive Employment program focuses on job placement, increasing employability skills, and ensuring long-term success on the job. Additionally, we are partnered with the Bureau of Rehabilitation and Re-Employment Services for which we provide comprehensive vocational testing and evaluation services. We have been successful in placing individuals with significant disabilities into meaningful employment with a majority of those individuals placed, obtaining jobs above minimum wage and with benefits.
The CILNCF has a strong record of advocacy in the area of accessible public transportation. In support of consumers need for better access, we are contracted with by area public transportation systems to provide support services for riders with disabilities wanting to utilize fixed route and paratransit services as defined under The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). We provide screening, eligibility determination and travel training services in Alachua, Hernando and Marion Counties.
Most recently, the CILNCF responded to the growing community need for a wheelchair ramp building program. Our Center builds wheelchair ramps for individuals who are without the financial resources to provide such home modifications themselves. The CILNCF has enlisted a strategy of grant writing and solicitation of donations in order to purchase ramp materials. Further, we have mobilized community groups and individual volunteers who provide the labor. The result is a wheelchair ramp program that builds approximately 20 ramps a year at no cost to the ramp recipient.
The Area and Population served by the CILNCF is very diverse. We provide all of our services at no cost to consumers residing within a 16 county region in North Central Florida that includes: Alachua, Bradford, Citrus, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Hernando, Lafayette, Lake, Levy, Marion, Putnam, Sumter, Suwannee, and Union counties. The CILNCF is an established community resource operated by people with disabilities with a record of responding to the needs of people with disabilities.