In New York, Centers for Independent Living, like RCIL, are mandated to provide demographic and service related information on an annual basis to their oversight agency, Adult Career and Continuing Educational Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR) formerly known as VESID. Recently we completed our analysis of demographic data from October 1, 2010 through September 30, 2011.
Over the last four years, we noticed a few shifts in services: a progressively larger percentage of women were served, more people self-identifying with multiple disabilities, and more people are living alone. This past year, over a thousand more people since 2008 came to our center for information and referral, demonstrating increasing need, declining community resources, and increasing complex systems.
Disabilities are typically categorized into four main types: cognitive, physical, mental, and sensory. Under cognitive the largest category is those with learning disabilities. In the physical area, it is orthopedic issues with neuromuscular diseases next. For people with mental health disabilities, emotional and behavioral conditions are most common with mental illness next. For those with sensory problems low vision was first with hearing problems second. As mentioned earlier many of our consumers reported more than one disability. Although our approach is always to listen first, and talk about strengths, the demographic information is helpful in identifying emerging needs.
We assisted about 4,400 persons in the past year from six general racial/ethnic backgrounds with African Americans being the largest minority group served, however, the number of Hispanics has shown the greatest percentage increase. Our consumer base is predominantly working age, with those 25-59 comprising 2,176 people, almost half of our total.
RCIL offers a very wide range of services from advocacy to received benefits, to communications assistance, to guiding youth to stay out of the juvenile justice system, to helping locate and maintain a job. All of these services are provided with one goal in mind – resources for people to live their own lives.
Just during this past year, in addition to fulfilling over 5,000 requests for information and referral, our dedicated staff delivered an additional 19,500 individual services to the children, persons with disabilities, and seniors who depend on Centers such as ours to maintain dignity and independence in their communities.
- Dave L.