Milwaukee Center for Independence: Assisting individuals with special needs




MCFI has been assisting people with special needs since 1938Since 1938, MCFI has been developing innovative approaches to assisting people with disabilities and other barriers to success to better live, work and be a part of the community.







MCFI Firsts!

The agency was originally called Jewish Vocational Service1938: The Milwaukee Jewish Foundation opens the doors of Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) to assist new immigrant families fleeing oppression in Europe settle in our community.

1949: The agency creates the first educational program to demonstrate that children with IQs under 50 can learn in school programs. The project, sponsored by the UARC, results in a change in state law and the establishment of such classes in communities throughout Wisconsin.

1955: Rehabilitation Work Adjustment is established as a sheltered workshop where individuals who are unable to adapt to work in industry can work under close supervision at a slower pace.

1963: Based upon the recommendations of the President's Panel on Mental Retardation, the agency establishes a Structured Community Services Projects to coordinate the medical, educational and social services required by people living with disabilities. Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister of President John F. Kennedy and the founder of Special Olympics, visits the agency.

1970: Selected by the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare as one of three vocational rehabilitation agencies in the nation to establish a model program that helps industry employ people with disabilities and disadvantages - and increase the job A home health aide program was established in the 1970s.retention of those who become disabled while employed.

1979: The agency is awarded national certification of its homemaker/home health aide program. The Southeast Campus is established in cooperation with Goodwill Industries.

1985: Chef-line Catering Services is established to continue training clients in food service and to generate revenue to support other agency programs for people living with disabilities. ProMark, a light assembly and packaging operation, is established as a job training site for clients.

1990: The agency's name is changed to the Milwaukee Center for Independence.

1991: Senior day programs are consolidated under the umbrella of Westside Senior Day Center.

1994: MCFI enters into a cooperative venture to develop an innovative demonstration program providing managed health care and coordination of medical and social services to 3,000 persons with disabilities in Milwaukee County. The venture, Independent Care, Inc. (iCare) is incorporated in May, 1994. MCFI makes a major shift in emphasis to community employment - agency sheltered workshops are downsized and there is a renewed commitment to community placement.

1995: A major shift in programming emphasis occurs in MCFI Day Services with the establishment of a community-based, community integration model.

1998: New Health Services is established with a grant from the Milwaukee County Department on Aging in response to a growing need to provide in-home support for older adults. The programs trains home care workers and places them where needed.

2000: A capital campaign begins to build a new Main Campus and headquarters. Land is purchased at 2020 West Wells Street, Milwaukee.

2001: The School for Early Development and Achievement, a public school chartered through the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, opens to serve children with disabilities, at-risk students and typically developing children.

2004: The new MCFI Main Campus, Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Building, opens at 2020 W. Wells St., Milwaukee.

2006: MCFI launches Pediatric Special Care for children from birth to 20 with special health care needs. The agency receives the Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin TORCH Award for ethics and integrity.

2007: MCFI receives the Rehabilitation Leadership Award from Rehabilitation for Wisconsin.

2008: MCFI affiliates with Transitional Living Services (TLS) to provide recovery-oriented behavioral health services to about 1,000 individuals living with mental illness in Southeastern Wisconsin.


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MCFI Pediatric Skilled Nursing is
Accredited by the Joint Commission. MCFI core programs are accredited by CARF


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