Missouri Centers for Independent Living

MOCIL is a statewide association dedicated to protecting and advancing the civil rights of people with disabilities

  • There are 21 Centers in Missouri covering each of Missouri’s 114 counties.
  • Centers are community-based, non-residential, not for profit organizations that are community controlled. 
  • Funding for Centers comes from a variety of sources including federal, state and/or local governments,  grants, and fee for service programs. 
  • Federal regulations require that at least 51% of a Center’s board of directors and Center staff are individuals with disabilities.
young girl with her arm around disabled girl in wheelchair

What is Independent Living?

Independent Living is a philosophy and movement of people with disabilities who work for self determination, equal opportunities and self-respect.


Centers for Independent Living (CILs) provide education about independent living options so participants can make the choice that is best for them.


CILs encourage participants to take control by setting & accomplishing their own personal goals.


CILs support participants as they learn to make informed decisions so they can change from unnecessary dependency to full inclusion in community life.

Independent Living does not mean that we want to do everything by ourselves and do not need anybody or that we want to live in isolation. Independent Living means that we demand the same choices and control in our every-day lives that our non-disabled brothers and sisters, neighbors and friends take for granted.

We want to grow up in our families, go to the neighborhood school, use the same bus as our neighbors, work in jobs that are in line with our education and abilities, and start families of our own. Just as everyone else, we need to be in charge of our lives, think and speak for ourselves. To this end we need to support and learn from each other, organize ourselves and work for political changes that lead to the legal protection of our human and civil rights.


The first Center for Independent Living was founded in 1972 by disability rights activists, led by Ed Roberts, in Berkeley, California. These Centers were created to offer peer support and role modeling, and are run by persons with disabilities. The IL approach is based on the idea that a peer support group can be more effective than a professional support group.

1972- Centers for Independent Living founded in Berkley, California  

1978- Federal funding becomes available to support CIL’s operations 

1982- Four CIL’s in the state of Missouri received federal funding:

  • Paraquad in St. Louis
  • The Whole Person in Kansas City
  • Disabled Citizens Alliance for Independence in Viburnum
    (the first rural Center in  Missouri)
  • Services for Independent Living in Columbia.


There are 21 Centers in Missouri covering each of Missouri’s 114 counties.