Administration For Community Living History
On April 18, 2012, Kathleen Sebelius, who held the position of Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services at that time, utilized her authority to establish the Administration for Community Living (ACL). This pivotal decision amalgamated the Administration on Aging, the Office on Disability, and the Administration on Developmental Disabilities.
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Since its inception, ACL has experienced ongoing growth and the assumption of new responsibilities with each passing year. In the fiscal year 2014 annual appropriation, Congress transferred the State Health Insurance Assistance Program ($52 million) from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Paralysis Resource Center ($7 million) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ACL.
In 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) transferred the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, as well as the Independent Living and Assistive Technology programs (totaling $238 million) from the Department of Education to ACL in the fiscal year 2015. Concurrently, the Limb Loss Resource Center ($2 million) was moved from the CDC to ACL. The fiscal year 2016 annual appropriation saw the transfer of the Traumatic Brain Injury program ($9 million) from the Health Resources and Services Administration to ACL.
On June 2, 2015, the Federal Register published ACL’s updated Statement of Organization, Functions, and Delegations of Authority, which outlines the expanded mission, organizational structure, roles, and responsibilities of its centers and offices. This document, found in Section V, Component Information, provides further insight into ACL’s operations.
The genesis of ACL stemmed from the fundamental principle that individuals with disabilities or functional limitations, regardless of age, share a common interest in accessing home and community-based support and services. Furthermore, these services are pivotal in ensuring their full participation in all facets of society, including the choice to reside at home. Although the purpose and funding levels of these programs have largely remained consistent over time, the establishment of ACL has strengthened their ability to collaborate toward their shared goal: facilitating older adults and individuals with disabilities, regardless of age, to live where and with whom they choose and actively engage in their communities.
About Community Living:
Our fundamental belief is that every individual, regardless of age or disability, should have the opportunity to live independently and actively participate in their communities. This includes the right to make choices and have control over decisions in their lives, encompassing aspects such as housing and employment – the very choices most adults take for granted.
Why Choose Community Living?
In numerous surveys, when posed with the question of where they’d prefer to reside, older adults and individuals with disabilities consistently express a desire to live in their communities rather than in institutional settings. Research also indicates that people experience greater happiness and improved well-being when they live within community environments.
Furthermore, the inclusion of older adults and individuals with disabilities offers substantial benefits to communities as a whole. Excluding these individuals results in a loss of valuable perspectives and voices. Communities miss out on the contributions of co-workers, volunteers, mentors, and friends who bring unique insights to navigating the world. The exclusion of older adults means the forfeiture of decades of accumulated wisdom and a break in their connection to historical knowledge.
Community living also proves to be a more cost-effective option for the majority of people. On average, skilled nursing facilities cost around $75,000 per year, while public residential facilities for individuals with disabilities average $225,000 annually. In most instances, these expenses are not covered by Medicare or private health insurance.
Moreover, a series of laws, court decisions, and administrative regulations have firmly established community living as a legal right. Notably, in 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court’s Olmstead v. L.C. ruling emphasized that individuals with disabilities must receive services in the most integrated settings possible. This landmark decision has been instrumental in safeguarding the rights of both people with disabilities and older adults.
Supporting Individuals in the Community:
Many older adults and individuals with disabilities require assistance with daily life tasks. This assistance can range from physical support, such as help with dressing and eating, to support in making decisions and planning. Some individuals may require a combination of these forms of support, as each person’s needs are unique.
At ACL, we prioritize placing the preferences and needs of older adults and people with disabilities who require assistance at the heart of the system of services and supports that enable them to lead the lives they desire. We firmly believe that these needs and preferences should be determined by the individual receiving these services and supports.
Simultaneously, we acknowledge that some individuals with disabilities and older adults may face challenges in articulating their preferences and needs. In such cases, family members and caregivers often play a vital role in ensuring that these preferences are respected and needs are met.
We also recognize that individual preferences are just one aspect of determining how to best support a person. Factors such as the availability of services and supports in various settings, the resources and availability of family caregivers, and other considerations must also be taken into account.
Making Community Living Work for You and Your Family:
Discovering services and support for community living can be a daunting task, especially when the need arises unexpectedly, such as after a fall or accident. Many individuals are uncertain about available services, whom to contact for assistance, and where to begin.
The Disability Information and Access Line (DIAL) is a resource for individuals with disabilities to connect with information about local community resources that facilitate independent living. You can reach a DIAL information specialist from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET, Monday–Friday by calling 888-677-1199 or emailing DIAL@usaginganddisability.org. For direct access to an agent who communicates in American Sign Language, call 888-677-1199 from your videophone. You can also engage in live chats with a DIAL information specialist.
In many states, Aging and Disability Resource Centers serve as gateways to a wide range of services and support for older adults and individuals with disabilities.
For individuals with disabilities of all ages, Centers for Independent Living are an excellent initial point of contact. These community-based centers, operated by and for people with disabilities, offer a diverse array of services to empower individuals to remain in their communities.
People with disabilities of all ages can also benefit from assistive technology (AT) devices and services, ranging from “low-tech” tools like utensils with large handles to more advanced solutions like talking computers. Each state and territory has an Assistive Technology Act program to assist individuals in finding, trying, and obtaining AT.
For older adults, ACL’s Eldercare Locator is a valuable resource to start the search. Visit www.eldercare.acl.gov or call 800-677-1116 to connect with your local Area Agency on Aging or Aging and Disability Resource Center. These organizations can help you understand the available services in your community and guide you through the sign-up process.
Numerous additional resources are accessible to assist you in locating and accessing services in your area. Our Find Help page can direct you in the right direction.
Mission & Vision
Our mission is to enhance the autonomy, quality of life, and well-being of older individuals, individuals with disabilities throughout their lifespans, and their families and caregivers.
We envision a world where every individual, regardless of age or disability, can live with honor, exercise their own choices, and engage fully in society. As such, we are committed to:
For the people we serve: Advocating for strategies that empower individuals to reside in their communities.
For our networks: Offering guidance and assistance.
For our partners: Being a hub for collaboration, creativity, and problem-solving.
For our employees: Supporting their contributions, professional development, and work-life balance.
For the public: Acting as responsible custodians of public resources and a trusted source of information.
Website link: https://acl.gov/
Phone number: 202-401-4634