In 1992 the Rehabilitation Act was amended, and the Alaska Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) created an independent living (IL) advisory board. This board ‘advised’ the division on the use of its federal IL funds. Advisory IL councils were empowered to a much greater degree and were given equal authority of the use of federal and state independent living funds and the state plan for independent living (SPIL). This plan, a primary responsibility of the SILC, spells out who is in the IL Network of Alaska, what additional goals and objectives (beyond the IL Core Services) should be worked on during the next three years, and how the IL Network is funded.
On October 1, 1993, Governor Walter Hickel appointed 13 Alaskans as the first members of the Statewide Independent Living Council. The SILC met for the first time in January 1994 and immediately began the task of writing its first SPIL in cooperation with DVR. This plan was a one-year interim plan covering the fiscal year beginning October 1, 1994, through September 30, 1995. The SILC was established by an Executive Order of the Governor; later Senate Bill 117, was introduced to the Legislature in 1995. This bill passed and was signed by Governor Tony Knowles on June 9, 1995
In April of 1995, Governor Knowles reviewed the membership of the existing SILC and made some changes, including removing two required members and adding seven additional public members. The newly constituted SILC developed a three-year State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL) in cooperation with DVR. The SPIL covered federal fiscal years that began October 1, 1995, and ended on September 30, 1998. This plan was amended on June 20, 1996.
In 2002, the SILC applied for and was established as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. As of July 2013, the SILC is made up of eleven voting members and two ex-officio non-voting members. Per federal regulations, our board maintains membership of no less than a simple majority of persons with disabilities.
New SPILs were written every three years in collaboration with DVR, the CILs, and our other partners. During the intervening years, the SILC and the CILs worked on completing the goals and objectives outlined in each three-year plan.
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act was enacted by the federal government and included many changes to Independent Living. WOIA increased the responsibility of centers for independent living (CIL) to include helping people transition from institutions (such as Assisted Living Homes, Nursing homes, etc.) into more independent housing. It also created a new requirement for CILs to work with youth with disabilities transitioning to adulthood. Luckily, our CILs were already working on those issues! It also changed some things for the SILC, including giving us the ability to do resource development.
Another change the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act did was to allow states to change the state agency that works with the SILC and CILs. Because of that change, our designated state entity is now the Alaska Division of Senior and Disability Services.
In 2018, the SILC began conducting its Needs Assessment for the new State Plan for Independent Living. The U.S. Administration on Community Living has made changes this year to the SPIL, requiring each SILC to create a one-year plan (in conjunction with the CILs).