Individual Advocacy – SEMCIL Advocates assist people with disabilities in learning how to advocate for themselves and make informed choices. Advocates will assist people in obtaining necessary support services at work, at school, with county or state government, or in the community.

Individualized Education Program (IEP) advocacy. IEP advocacy is provided by highly trained SEMCIL staff with specialized knowledge about disabilities and the educational process. Our role varies, depending upon the type of advocacy being requested. We can refer families to resources and information or provide more intense involvement such accompanying a family to an IEP meeting. SEMCIL works with the team (family members, teachers, special education staff, etc.) to ensure that each student receives an appropriate Evaluation and Individual Education Plan. Parents report that their meetings are more productive and they are treated with more respect when an advocate is present.

Social Security (SSI/SSDI) Access and Recovery (SOAR) Advocacy and Support. SEMCIL staff are trained and certified by the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) to help people who have a mental illness and are homeless, at risk for homelessness or who live in housing designated for people leaving homelessness apply for SSI/SSDI benefits. SEMCIL also helps these individuals with the reconsideration process and to appeal decisions when their applications have been denied. These services are free (no cost) to eligible individuals.

Systems Advocacy – SEMCIL staff, Board members and consumers engage in systems advocacy, which includes helping to develop and implement public policy, working with public officials and addressing issues that impact the lives of people with disabilities. Systems advocacy occurs at the local, state and federal levels and is intended to make changes in the community that improve the lives of people with disabilities.

Advocacy Program Goals

  • To promote and advocate for the civil rights of persons with disabilities.
  • To provide resources to support advocacy on behalf of persons with disabilities.
  • To educate the community about inclusion of persons with disabilities.
  • To impact policies that affect persons with disabilities.