The Home and Community Services (HCS) department through The Arc of Centre County began providing community-based supports in 1991. The need and authorization for these services has grown significantly since 2012. HCS provides In Home and Community Supports (IHCS), Community Participation (CPS) and in some instances, Respite and Companion services. HCS focuses on assisting individuals in acquiring, maintaining or improving the self-help, domestic, socialization and adaptive skills necessary to live in the community, to live more independently, or to be more productive and participatory in community life. These services can be specialized to include 100% community integrated activities with a pre-vocation focus. This rapidly expanding service is provided in a community setting, in the private home of an individual or in a long-term care facility; HCS is truly a lifeline for those we serve and their families. Professional staff guide the participant in achieving person-centered outcomes designed to promote acquisition and/or retention of skills that further independence.
Since 1983 The Arc of Centre County has offered Supported Employment Services to persons with disabilities interested in obtaining competitive, integrated employment. Such employment refers to jobs held by people with disabilities in typical workplace settings where the majority of persons employed are not persons with disabilities, they earn at least minimum wage and they are paid directly by the employer. There are 2 components to traditional Supported Employment Services program; job placement and job support. Individuals with the desire and ability to work competitively in the community are assisted in placement activities such as searching for relevant job openings, completing employment applications, interviewing, interpersonal skills and the use of transportation. Once employment is obtained, focus shifts to aiding the new employee in learning and performing actual job tasks and abiding by workplace policies as well as developing natural supports and professional relationships with co-workers and supervisors. Nittany Employment Services (NES) maintains direct contact with the employer ensuring ongoing communication, and that work standards are consistently met. In October 2013 the agency began discussion with individuals, family members, area employers and funding sources to identify what was and was not meeting the needs of each in regards to successful competitive employment. That information was combined with scholarly input from the Pennsylvania State University (PSU) as well as the Virginia Commonwealth University’s Research and Rehabilitation Training Center (VCU-RRTC) to develop a new and much anticipated innovative employment program for persons with disabilities predicated on individualized, progressive strategies for career planning and job placement. Since our initial queries in 2012 to the kick off of Career Discovery in 2015, NES has shifted its ideology to focus on abilities and possibilities. Not every person seeking employment needs this specialized approach but for those who do, Career Discovery focuses on employment as the first and most desired outcome for all persons, regardless of the severity of their disability (in alignment with DOL’s Employment First initiative and WIOA). Finding employment for persons with specialized needs takes a great deal of time, patience and perseverance but with Career Discovery’s road map and adequate time for customizing employment, this program has the ability to shape the future of employment for persons with a disability!
The Arc’s Residential Department has been in existence since 1972. Residential Services provide twenty-four hour supports in a licensed community home to persons with an intellectual disability. Staff provide direct services in the areas of health maintenance, activities of daily living, behavioral support, socialization, community integration, financial management, and recreation. The Arc’s first residential group home opened in 1972. The Arc entered uncharted territory in 1998 by establishing the first group home with licensed nursing personnel in Centre County and went on to establish the first residential home for individuals diagnosed with an Intellectual Disability and Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, called Forever Home, in January 2013. In 2016 and 2018 The Arc opened additional community homes with medical supports; this increased our ability to serve persons with an intellectual disability and complex medical needs in an appropriate community integrated setting.
These programs are primarily funded by Centre County Mental Health/Intellectual Disabilities/Early Intervention-Drug and Alcohol Program Office but are also funded in part by the Centre County United Way.