Center for Disability Rights is proud to celebrate the accomplishments of Candace Blanton who is featured in CACIL’s (Connecticut Association of Center’s for Independent Living) letter to legislators:
Helping people with disabilities find, master and afford technological solutions to social isolation has been Candace Blanton’s focus for the past 12 months in her work for one of Connecticut’s five independent living centers (ILCs). We ask you to support funding at $550,000 per center, so she can continue to do her job.
The (ILCs) help people with any disability to live and thrive in the community. Candace says her job has been particularly challenging, but also very rewarding.
The ILCs help people find and maintain housing, develop job readiness, transition out of nursing facilities and gain access to state and federal services, and until the pandemic that was mostly done in person.
When the state of Connecticut shut down in March 2020, the ILCs closed their offices to continue their work remotely. The center staff had to quickly sort out their own use of technology to maintain communications with consumers.
But they also had to help existing consumers do the same, while helping a rash of new folks brought in by the pandemic.
Many of the center’s consumers didn’t have adequate computers or tablets. Others did not have or couldn’t afford access to the internet. Sheltered in their homes because of the pandemic, Candace said people with disabilities who could not access services or friends on the internet were dangerously isolated.
For the past year, Candace has worked to identify consumers who are socially isolated. She then coordinates services to help them get buy tablets or other assistive technology, as well as affordable internet/WiFi services. Where needed, she assists in getting funding to cover 12 months of cable service. She’s helped them learn the assisted technology to keep people connected to social services, healthcare providers, families and friends.
“We are keeping people connected with others in the community,” Blanton says.
But her job will end this summer when funding provided under the 2020 federal Cares Act runs out. And that worries Blanton and the independent living centers.
“The independent living centers are a place where you can find someone who understands and can give you support,” Blanton says. “We need to continue to provide these services, because even after COVID vanishes, our consumers are still going to need these new communication skills and technology.”
The work of Connecticut’s five ILCs is needed now more than ever and through the dedication of people like Candace, thousands of people with disabilities across the state have continued to live and thrive in the community.
Please fund the Independent Living Centers at $550,000 per center, so that we can continue to provide the cost-effective support services that people need. Our services are the most cost-effective in the state.
Eileen M. Healy, President, CACIL