A Parent’s Vision… An Agency’s Journey
The Arc of Centre County PA, Inc. was founded as a grassroots organization in 1953 by a small group of parents. The Arc has always been sensitive to the impact of terminology on our constituency and thus we have adapted accordingly throughout our existence; the final change came in 1993 when the ARC voted to change its name to “The Arc of Centre County, PA Inc.” consequently eliminating the name as an acronym.
It was in the 1960’s that the youngest, most impressionable of those served began learning in our preschool. The name changed over the decades – Carousel Preschool, Rainbow Preschool, Imagination Station – but the mission was steadfast. These children and their families found support at a time when there was little offered. Since then much has changed and our legislative lobbying and grass roots efforts have been rewarded. While The Arc no longer provides specific preschool services, the agency remains dedicated to promoting the rights of those with a disability. Our services now extend beyond education and focus on integration within the actual home, community and employment settings.
It was in 1972 that the doors of our first twenty-four hour supervision group home opened. Now, more than forty years later, we are providing state of the art residential programs in licensed settings all across Centre County. In 1998, The Arc entered uncharted territory by embarking as the first agency to establish a group home with licensed nursing personnel in Centre County. The Arc once again broke new ground in 2013 with the unveiling of Forever Home, a unique program for persons with an Intellectual Disability as well as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. This program promotes best-practices and progressive program planning for those with the most specialized needs. New approaches, such as the programming offered at Forever Home, are vital as our agency continues to invest in the resources necessary to keep those we serve actively engaged as members of their community. As aging and medical concerns increase, The Arc has stayed committed to its mission- to provide the highest quality of services in the least restrictive environment. In 2016 The Arc transitioned one of its existing residential homes into a program with nursing personnel and for the first time in 15 years, a new home with nursing personnel opened. The Arc feels that these programs are a vital safety net for those we serve; enabling our agency to continue to meet increasing medical needs while allowing individuals to remain in their home and community. The Arc’s Residential Services are set apart by focusing on these individualized and specialized programs. We view a Person-Centered approach as imperative when assisting individuals with complex needs to ensure their right to live an integrated community life.
Jumping back to 1980, at this time The Arc saw a void which could potentially be filled by growth in employment services. From its inception in 1982 and forward, our employment department has pushed for real work for real wages. The 1990’s saw not only a name change for the department – now Nittany Employment Services (NES)- but also the exciting birth of the ONE program (Opportunity Network for Employment) at The Pennsylvania State University. More time passed and Pennsylvania adopted the Department of Labor’s “Employment First” concept to “facilitate the full inclusion of people with the most significant disabilities in the workplace and community”. This empowered The Arc to embark on a journey to enhance person-centered employment approaches. After 18 months of research, development and intensive training, our latest initiative, Career Discovery, was added to NES’ service offerings in January 2015. The intent of the initiative is to provide employment planning for persons with a disability needing an alternative to the traditional assessments and services offered. Discovery is this alternative vocational assessment; it provides, in a non-traditional, common-sense form, the information needed to determine the strengths, needs and interests of any person with complex life issues. Rather than take any job that is available, Career Discovery focuses on the completion of a non-comparative assessment that identifies a person’s interests and abilities so that we assist the individual in seeking the right employment match. A person who is referred for Career Discovery participates in four focus levels: assessment, soft skills, safety skills, and interviewing. These focus levels help The Arc’s Employment Specialist to gain valuable insight into the person and their strengths and allows the individual to gain skills necessary to compete in the job market. After a profile is developed, the job search begins for employment that matches the person’s abilities. An Employment Specialist who is trained in Customized Employment will help identify a job or a portion of a job that an individual can do and assist the employer in adapting the job requirements to meet the skill set of the potential employee. Customized Employment is a joint effort between the Employment Specialist, the potential employee and the potential employer to find an ideal fit for both the employee and the employer. As with any new initiatives, Career Discovery and Customized Employment require intensive training and The Arc employs certified Discovery Facilitators, the vital component which sets Career Discovery apart. We are excited to be embarking on a journey to change philosophes, improve outcomes and align our services with local, state and federal expectations!
As in the beginning, the family remains unforgettable as the milestones are reached. Our Family Support Program began in the 80’s, expanded in the 90’s and empowered families into the new millennium. While The Arc no longer manages the Family Support Services, our AL-CAN Fund can provide families with support for unfunded needs such as summer camps, medical equipment, therapy, structural adaptations and other supports enabling loved ones to persevere and to move forward.
1954 – Day Care Training Class Started
1957 – Sheltered Workshop Established (Became Skills, Inc. in 1960)
1961 – Carousel Preschool Opened
1965 – Rainbow Preschool
1965 – Home Visitor Referral Service
1966 – Centre County Chapter, PARC Receiver of Benjamin Rush Award
1972 – Gateway Preschool
1972 – First Centre County PARC Administrator – Delbert McEwen
1972 – Woodruff House Opened
1973 – Centre County PARC Office Established
1976 – College Avenue House Opened
1976 – First Centre County PARC Activities Director
1978 – First Recreation/Friendship Director
1979 – CETA Summer Work Program Started
1980 – University Drive Apartment Program
1981 – PARC became ARC
1983 – ARC Received $22,644.58 from Phi Kappa Psi to start the Job Support Program
1984 – PROGRESS Grant Awarded
1986 – Bob Mochan Became Executive Director
1986 – Rainbow moved to Heritage Oaks
1986 – Woodruff House Sold, ARC Purchased: Fairwood Lane, Forest Edge
1987 – Bellefonte and State College School Districts Contributed Money to the Adult Vocational Program
1987 – First Bellefonte Day Camp
1988 – Family Support Services Began
1988 – K.I.D.S. Proposal Funded for 3 Years
1989 – Laurelton/ARC Monitoring Program Began
1989 – North Allen House opened
1990 – Rainbow Preschool Integrated and Peer Support Network Founded
1991 – Bob Mochan Resigned as Executive Director
1991 – Laurelton and ARC Job Support Grant Funded
1991 – Peer Support Network Became Speak-Out
1992 – Effie Jenks became Executive Director
1992 – ARC office Relocated, Burrowes Street Office Sold
1992 – Family Support Program Expanded
1992 – Family Living Program Expanded
1992 – Easter Seal Society & ARC Co-Sponsor Summer Camp Program
1992 – Rainbow Preschool Moved to New Location
1993 – Development Disability Planning Council Grant Funded
1993 – Department of Community Affairs Grant Funded
1993 – Early Intervention Program Redesigned
1993 – Five People Move from CLA’s Into Their own Home
1993 – ARC Votes to Change It’s Name
1993 – The Arc Celebrates It’s 40th Anniversary
1995 – Purchase of Current Office on North Atherton Street
1997 – Strouse Avenue House Opened
1998 – Walker Meadows A & B opened-24 hour supervision homes included RN/LPNs on duty
2000 – First annual Poker Run (sponsored by The Law Dogs of PA) established to raise money for the Family Support Program
2004 – Two annual fund raisers added to benefit The Arc; The Corn Maze held every fall and a Basket Bingo held every December
2006 – Restructured the Administrative Department of The Arc
2007 – First Arc Bark Fundraiser.
2007 – The Arc website was redesigned to include more detailed information and online employement applications.
2008 – New budgeting process began with the State; will eventually eliminate the county as the middleman for revenue received for most programs. New process based on cost report to be completed annually.
2008 – Changes to the Arc’s administrative staff in response to the state-wide fiscal restructure.
2009- Additions made to The Arc’s Training Library to enhance topics and to allow more flexibility to employees in completing annual training requirements.
2010- Revision of The Arc’s website to allow adminstrative control and online donations.
2011- Work begins on the Forever Home and Alzheimer’s initiative
2012- Expansion of Home and Community Habilitation Services
2013- Forever Home opens- A licensed, community home, with environmental and programmatic design that showcases current best practices in the care and support of persons with an Intellectual Disability and Alzheimer’s disease.”
2014- New Logo unveiled
2015- Career Discovery Program begins- employment planning for persons needing an alternative to traditional assessments
2015- First Annual Mom Prom Fundraiser
2016- Transition of the Madison Program to a medical model Licensed Residential Program
2016- Medical Model Residential Program 614 opens
2016- The Arc Board of Directors votes to update Mission, Vision and Core Values
2018- Medical Model Residential Program- Hastings Program opens
As The Arc of Centre County has moved into the 21st century, we are committed to continuing to strive to provide the highest-quality service!