Sunday, June 28, 2009

What is The Arc of Washington State?

Welcome to our new blog! We hope this gives individuals with developmental disabilities (self advocates), their families, service providers and other professionals and community members interested in issues and topics around developmental disabilities a place to gain information and share new ideas and viewpoints.

The Arc of Washington State advocates for the rights and full participation of all people with developmental disabilities. Along with our network of members and chapters, we support and empower individuals and families; connect and inform individuals and families; improve support and service systems; influence public policy; increase public awareness; and inspire inclusive communities.

Our vision is for a world where people with developmental disabilities are included in their communities and neighborhoods and where quality supports and services respond to their needs and personal choices. The Arc fulfills its mission and vision through many programs. It takes a variety of methods to address the wide range of needs of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.

Parent to Parent provides emotional support and information to families of children with special needs and/or disabilities. Learning that your child has a developmental disability can be a traumatic experience. Parents have many questions and concerns in coping with their child's needs and their own feelings. Personal support from another parent, who has a child with similar needs, can be helpful in coping with these challenging experiences and feelings. Helping Parents (volunteer mentors) are available to provide support and information.

The Advocacy Partnership Project is a program that provides information on legislative issues to families and self advocates that empower them to have a voice in the legislative process. Advocacy Days are hosted weekly during legislative session as a way to encourage people to use their voice on issues important to them. Video podcasts are created weekly during session through a partnership between the DDC and The Arc of Washington.

Self Advocates In Leadership (SAIL) is a program which focuses on bringing self advocates together, providing information and technical assistance to assist them in representing their needs to their families, providers and legislative representatives.

The Life Opportunities Trust is a public-private partnership that makes it possible for families to enhance the quality of life for their loved ones with a developmental disability, and for individuals with developmental disabilities to participate in their own financial future. The Arc of Washington State has been selected as Trust Manager for the fund. We provide information, enrollment assistance and the administration of individual trust accounts.

Medicaid Personal Care Training (MPC) provides information, resources and training to parents who are providing care for their adult sons and daughters with developmental disabilities.

The Senior Family Project addresses a critical need for elderly parents still caring for adult children with developmental disabilities at home. The Arc of Washington contracts with local Arc chapters and Parent to Parent organizations to provide information and learning events for some of these senior families.

Striving to Achieve Real Success (STARS) is a Thurston County advocacy group for young adults with developmental disabilities coordinated by the Arc of Washington and funded by a grant from Thurston/Mason County DD.

Brochures, booklets, DVDs and other publications are available from The Arc of Washington on these projects and other important topics. You can call (888) 754-8798 for more information.

I hope this helps people to understand who The Arc is and what we do here in Washington State. If you have ideas of other projects The Arc might want to consider being part of please share them with me. Is there a topic you would like to see addressed in this blog? Let me know that as well. Thanks for being involved!

Diana Stadden
The Arc of Washington State