Jane Doyle’s son graduated from Evanston Township High School, went to UCLA and joined a fraternity. Her daughter Paige, yearned for a similar opportunity. That wasn’t an option though, because of her developmental disability.
“My husband and I recognized that we had to be Paige’s dream keepers,” Jane explains. So, in 2000, they gathered 25 families facing similar challenges and started strategizing. This led to the birth of the Center for Independent Futures (CIF).
CIF works with families to plan the best possible future for young adults with disabilities and, hopefully, place them in homes and community settings where they can live independent and full lives. The organization’s annual fundraiser, Spark, will take place on April 30.
“We believe that families working collaboratively are more effective than families struggling alone,” Jane explains.
CIF also believes that building relationships and networks is essential to creating sustainable futures.
CIF developed a planning program called “Full Life Future Planning.” This helps individuals with disabilities identify their hopes and dreams, and their schools and families to develop strategies needed to support them.
Rather than relying heavily on the state welfare system, this powerful model empowers the people who care the most about the individuals in need to work together and create solutions. They build “dream teams” for the young adults— relationships and networks of support to create sustainable futures.
Young adults who likely would have lived in their parents’ home, dependent and isolated, instead live with friends in a setting that encourages them to work and get out into the local community.
CIF’s first “Community Living Option” was established in Evanston in 2003. Since then CIF has helped establish 4 homes in Evanston, one in Schaumburg, and one in Ann Arbor, Mich. Two more will be completed within the next year. Each home has a different model, reflecting different needs.
“Paige likes to say that she is the inspiration for CIF,” Jane says, beaming with pride. And Paige’s parents can be an inspiration to all families wrestling with challenges. They’ve proven that collaboration, creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit can build a better future.