Before the Education for All Handicapped Children Act was passed in the 1970s, young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities were unwelcome in our public schools. In response, a group of parents who knew that their children with intellectual and developmental disabilities had worth and potential met in a Groton, Connecticut, living room in 1952 and passed a hat. They collected $10.69 to fund an education program for their children and sparked a social and civil rights movement that drives The Arc New London County today.
Founded on principles of full inclusion and the belief that all people have the right to fully live their dreams and goals, The Arc New London County has grown to a $10.5 million full-service provider offering residential, employment and day services as well as in-home supports and recreational opportunities. The Arc's Community Life & Advocacy program is the oldest such program in Southeastern Connecticut, funded solely by public donations and United Way and offering life enhancement options ranging from Special Olympics to providing opportunities for support groups to self-presentation skills for professional advancement.
Even as society's awareness grew and greater acceptance took hold, so too did The Arc New London County's vision evolve, raising expectations among people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families across the region. From a belief that people are better off living with families and loved ones than in an institution came the understanding that sheltered workshops are not the same as real jobs. In the 1990s, The Arc New London County closed its sheltered workshop and its Board of Directors resolved that all people are entitled to jobs in the community at minimum wage or higher a policy that continues today.
In 2011, The Arc New London County completed a merger with Seacorp, Inc, establishing an even more dynamic and efficient service platform. While growing its service options by 60%, The Arc improved quality assurance scores by 7% in just one year, even while reducing overhead costs and avoiding layoffs for employees in a region hard-hit by recession. The Arc New London County has earned its reputation for creative and cost-effective individualized solutions from jobs to residential options to entertainment all of which serve its 565 clients and their families well.