The Arc of Butler County credits its start to a grass roots initiative that began with concerned families and community leaders surrounding services and supports for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Because of these beginnings, The Arc of Butler County has a rich history of advocacy for adults and right-to-education for preschool and public school-aged children.
Originally incorporated under the name Butler County Chapter of the Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children (PARC), The Arc of Butler County has been in operation for 56 years! In 1982, the agency legally changed its name to the Association of Retarded Citizens – Butler County. Operations continued under this name for 22 years, until November 2004, when the name was changed again to The Arc of Butler County to ensure continuity with changes made by our state (The Arc of Pennsylvania) and national organizations (The Arc of the United States).
After incorporating in 1957, the Butler County Chapter of the Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children, otherwise known as PARC, was started. Initially Sheltered Workshop services were provided by volunteers from the community; eventually enough funds were generated to hire permanent staff. Today, the Sheltered Workshop Program continues to operate under PARC Productions. Individuals are able to learn valuable job skills while earning a paycheck.
In 1959, The Arc of Butler County opened a preschool program for children ages 3-5, known as the Growth and Development Center. This program that began as a daycare eventually evolved to a licensed preschool program for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This program was closed in June 1989 when the Pennsylvania Department of Education and local Intermediate Unit became responsible for the preschool education of children with disabilities.
In 1973, The Arc of Butler County opened one of the first community residences for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Western Pennsylvania. This residence offered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, supervised housing for 8 individuals. The Arc of Butler County continues to provide this service through its Community Living Arrangement Program.
Career Opportunities for the Disabled (COD) was started in 1988. This program is designed to help individuals with not only intellectual and developmental disabilities, but also other disabilities, obtain and retain competitive employment within the community. The program was expanded in 1991 with the help of grant funds from the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR). Program offerings have expanded to provide job coaching and transition services to students leaving high school and entering the community. The COD Program continues to successfully train, coach, and place individuals in competitive employment
The Arc of Butler County's Family Living Program also began in 1988. Offering a supportive family atmosphere for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, this program was started as a complement to the Community Living Arrangement Program. The purpose of Family Living is to offer a healthy, nurturing, family environment to individuals by including them into the lifestyle of a private family home. Today, the Family Living Program continues to provide this valuable service to individuals throughout Butler County.
In 1998, the Supportive Housing Program was initiated. Designed to provide individualized staff support for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities who live in the community, whether independently or with their families. By ensuring that individuals have adequate supports with medical appointments/follow-ups, transportation, socialization, budgeting, and other needs; the Supportive Housing Program helps these individuals live in the least restrictive environment safely. Since its inception in 1998, this program has expanded every year. The Arc of Butler County continues to ensure individuals are receiving the adequate supports to live on their own in the community.