Skip to main content

Independent & Community Living


When parents think about their son or daughter making the transition to adulthood, postsecondary education and employment are often the first areas considered. It may be just as important, or more so, to give careful thought to the skills the young person will need to learn, work, and live as independently as possible.

Learning independent living skills in high school leads to more opportunities and greater success after high school graduation. There are many aspects to living independently as a young adult. Starting with the most basic, it’s about having daily living skills, which include grooming and hygiene, personal safety, and knowing how to take care of oneself. In addition, it’s about self-determination – learning to “have a voice and make a choice” about one’s life.  These skills are learned over time at home, at school, and in the community. They provide the foundation for what it takes to live meaningful adult lives.

Independent living also means finding appropriate housing, using transportation, managing money, participating in community living – including social and leisure activities – and more. Support needs will vary based on the disability and the unique needs of the individual. A local Center for Independent Living can connect youth and adults with the kinds of supports and services they need. 

Person-Centered Planning

Person-Centered Planning is a team-based process used to help your youth plan for the future. Focused on your young adult’s personal vision, the team supports and identifies opportunities, relationships, skills and abilities that are required to progress toward achieving the vision.

Self Determination

Self-determination means helping youth identify their own goals and dreams, and being able to take charge of making those dreams happen. Parents play an important role in building self-determination within their youth.

Centers for Independent Living

Centers for Independent Living (CILs) are nonprofit community-based programs that are professionally staffed and managed by individuals with disabilities for people with all kinds of disabilities.


It is common for youth to look forward to moving out of the family home and into places of their own. Understanding housing options, available supports, and eligibility criteria can help youth with disabilities and their families work toward a youth’s vision for where they want to live.