The state made funding available for the expansion of Independent Living services. The Philadelphia CIL had the choice of expanding to another disability group or reaching out geographically. It decided to begin meeting the needs of consumers with disabilities in the underserved suburban counties surrounding Philadelphia. Beginning with a one staff office in Delaware County, Suburban Center West (as Freedom Valley was then known) served approximately fifty consumers, family members, friends and service providers.
A County Coordinator was hired to provide outreach and expand services into Chester County.
Responding to consumer needs, a second satellite center, called Suburban Center North, was opened to serve persons with disabilities in Montgomery and Bucks counties. The satellite office worked together with The Associated Services for the Blind to develop a special skills training and peer support program in the suburbs, called Project Insight, for persons with visual impairments. This program operated out of Suburban Center North with the assistance of the Montgomery County Association for the Blind.
The Suburban Centers developed another pilot program funded by the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) for the purpose of assisting persons with severe disabilities in developing the skills and motivation necessary to further their education and/or vocational training, volunteerism and/or employment. Utilizing a combination of Independent Living Skills Training, Peer Support and Parent Mentoring, The ACCESS-ABILITY Project, as this unique program was known, served an often overlooked population of American society and responded to the goals of AMERICA 2000 as well. This project operated through Suburban Center West.
It was these two Centers, Suburban Centers West and North, that divested from the Philadelphia CIL to form Freedom Valley Disability Enablement, Inc. The official date for the separation was January 1, 1993. The former Suburban Center West in Delaware County served as the administrative office and a satellite was located in Montgomery County. In the middle 1990’s, the Center consolidated the two offices to serve the consumers and community more efficiently and cost effectively.
Freedom Valley developed Peer Mentoring training for consumers in the four suburban counties. The training was offered at several locations for the convenience of the consumers. This training was to help Freedom Valley fill the staffing gap by utilizing interested and trained volunteers and to provide consumers with the opportunity for personal growth and professional development. Freedom Valley continues to use the Mentors on an on-going basis.
In the spring of 2005, Freedom Valley was given a special contract by the PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation to develop a separate CIL in one of its more active counties: Bucks County. This process was completed in less than the 18 months allowed by the contract.
Freedom Valley had recruited and trained a board of directors, interviewed and hired staff, selected and furnished office space, thus establishing a satellite of its own, until its divestiture in the summer of 2006.
Freedom Valley Disability Center looks forward to future growth through additional contracts and the expansion of services. With greater resources, Freedom Valley could empower even more individuals with disabilities in the region.