The Arc Advocacy & Resource Center helps families raise and nurture their child or adult with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities (I/DD). We provide information and support on issues related to disabilities. We also lend an understanding and listening ear to parents or family members who are overwhelmed with the demands of caring for a loved one with a disability at any age.
The Arc provides individualized support and assistance to people with I/DD and their family members. We wish to ensure they obtain appropriate services in the community, be it education, employment, health care, housing, case management or recreation.
The Arc is the advisor to People 1st of the Lakeshore, which is comprised of adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD). The members strive to bring about positive changes and increase opportunities for individuals with I/DD. They are people first and their disabilities come second.
The members of People 1st attend conferences to learn how to advocate on issues they are concerned about, such as public transportation, housing and employment. They enjoy an active social life and attend the activities at Tulip Time, the Ottawa County Fair and the Coast Guard Festival.Join People 1st with Paypal.
or using the People 1st application (pdf).
Our Parent Connections support group and parenting education program is designed for mothers and fathers who experience a cognitive impairment or other developmental disability. It follows the supported parenting model which involves working long term to build on families’ strengths in order to promote competence and sustain independence. The program assists moms and dads to successfully parent their children and prevent child abuse and neglect.
The support group meets twice a month. A social worker facilities the group discussion. A meal is provided along with child care. Assistance with transportation is available.
Parent Connects brochure (pdf)
Special education advocacy
The Arc helps parents learn how to navigate the special education system in schools. We hold trainings to teach parents about their rights and how to be an effective advocate for their child. An Arc advocate is available via phone or in person to help parents understand a special education issue or to prepare for their child’s upcoming IEP meeting. In some situations the advocate will attend IEP meetings with parents.
We have extensive resources and handouts for parents related to special education advocacy. Printed material is available on request.
Information and Referral (I+R)
The Arc provides families and others who contact us with direct information about disability related issues and community resources. The Arc is also a resource for professionals in the disability field. We have extensive files of information and will provide printed material on request.
With education and awareness comes understanding and acceptance. The Arc Advocacy & Resource Center views increased public awareness as one of the major components to greater understanding and community acceptance of persons with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. To this end, The Arc provides members, families, professionals, organizations, and the community-at-large with direct and indirect information about Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
Alternatives to guardianship
When a person with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities turns 18, parents will need to research the issue of guardianship and determine if guardianship is necessary for their young adult or if other protections would be appropriate. Guardianship is the legal power to care for another person and manage his/her affairs. There are many alternatives to guardianship that can be put in place to protect the young adult with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. There is no magic formula to determine when or whether guardianship is appropriate. Each and every situation is unique. Families should seek as much information as possible before making any decisions.
An Arc advocate will meet with parents to explain alternatives to guardianship and then the family can decide what is best for their loved one.
View our Alternatives to Guardianship flyer (pdf).
Position statement from The Arc of the United States:
The majority of persons with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities can manage their own affairs with informal assistance and guidance from family and friends. If guardianship is essential, it should be used only to the extent necessary with a presumption in favor of limited rather than full guardianship.