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For people with intellectual and developmental disabilities

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The Arc FoundersThe Arc Oregon, an affiliated state chapter of The Arc United States, has a rich history of improving the lives of children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and their families.

Through our partnership with the disability community in Oregon, many changes have been made through legislation and litigation.

Since our incorporation on August 24, 1954, we have actively advocated for changes in public opinion and legislative action, and have partnered with other organizations to further the rights of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.


Established as The Oregon Association for Retarded Children, we played a key role in advocating for implementation of the recommendations of Governor’s Committee on Mental Retardation. And, as a result of advocating for the expansion of teaching and research in the education of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities on the national level, most of the early childhood education programs in Oregon were started by local chapters of The Arc and held in church basements or other rented or borrowed spaces.


The Arc Oregon played a key role in the development of classes and public funding for “TMR” (trainable mentally retarded) students. University Affiliated Centers were located at the University of Oregon and the Oregon Health Sciences Center.

The Arc began offering camping experiences at Camp Civitan on the Santiam River and several members of The Arc assisted in the development of the publication, The Rational and Proposal for Services to the Mentally Retarded in Oregon.


This decade was significant for big changes in legislation as a result of the efforts of The Arc, including:

  • HB2444, which mandated free public school education for all children in Oregon;
  • Landmark legislation authorizing state funding of community case management, preschools, activity centers, group homes, and other related services in the community with Community Mental Health programs responsible for these services;
  • Legislation eliminating the parent’s financial responsibility if their child was residing in an institution;
  • Public Law 94-142, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, securing the right to a public education for all children, regardless of their disability;
  • SB42 and SB 434, providing due process procedures for parents and strengthening that process by defining responsibility and requiring Surrogate Parents when needed;
  • SB 142, revising the commitment statutes and assured review of each individual’s program plan.

In addition to participating in significant legislative action, The Arc Oregon:

  • Changed its name to The Oregon Association for Retarded Citizens;
  • Supported the founding of People First of Oregon;
  • Began to coordinate the Socio-Legal Task Force in partnership with the Epilepsy Association and the United Cerebral Palsy organization;
  • Established Oregon’s statewide Citizen’s Advocacy Program;
  • Used an award of the Governor’s Discretionary funds to start the EMR Project (Extending Methods of Rehabilitation);
  • Founded the Guardianship, Advocacy, and Protective Services (GAPS) program.


Our Bingo operation in Eugene was opened as a major source of funding for The Arc programs and services, we co-sponsored the Parent Graduation Alliance to assist individuals and families in transitioning from school to work, we entered into two lawsuits against the State of Oregon regarding the care, treatment and training of residents at Fairview Training Center, and we continued in our advocacy efforts for more important legislation, including:

  • HB2021, mandating early intervention and preschool services;
  • HB2966, revising the sterilization statutes and providing protective measures;
  • SB293, requiring drivers to provide seatbelts for all children under the age of five;
  • SB478, prohibiting restrictive and discriminatory zoning against residential programs serving five or fewer people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in any residential area;
  • SB639, setting our statutory conditions for guardianship;
  • HB2812, requiring the Mental Health and Developmental Disability Services Division to evaluate all of its programs for integration, productivity and independence in the lives of the people it serves;
  • SB522, mandating planning for family support services through the Mental Health Division;
  • HB2620, requiring the continuation of downsizing of state operated training centers and the development of community services for people coming out of state operated training centers and those on the Wait List in equal numbers;
  • SB426, giving students in Special Education in Oregon the right to stay in school throughout the year in which they turn 21;
  • SB559, clarifying the mandate for services on Wait Lists and establishing the mandate to provide high school transition services for those graduating from public schools.

As strong advocates for the closure of Fairview and its associated service centers, The Arc Oregon contracted with the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Services Division to develop and implement a citizen-monitoring program called Advocates Involved in Monitoring (Project AIM). Project AIM provided citizen monitoring of residential services for people coming out of Fairview and Eastern Oregon Training Centers into Oregon communities.


In recognition of the stigma felt by self-advocates regarding the term “retarded”, the organization (known at that time as The Association for Retarded Citizens), changed its name to The Arc, removing the term “retarded” from the name.

The Arc Oregon continued its collaborative partnership efforts, resulting in The Community Partnerships project, the Autism Collaborative Training Project, and Partners in Policymaking classes.

In addition to expanding our GAPS program in 1993 by contracting with the State of Oregon for services in the Portland Metro areas, we launched the Oregon Special Needs Trust program in 1999.

The 21st Century

The Arc Oregon became the lead organizational plaintiff in the landmark class action lawsuit, Staley vs. Kitzhaber, representing over 3000 Oregonians with developmental disabilities, and has been a key player in the implementation of the terms of the Staley Settlement and a key negotiator in maintaining the funding despite severe budget cuts.

Our collaborative efforts have resulted in the closure of the Fairview Training Centers, the establishment of an upscale resale store to raise funds for local chapters, and brokerage training for Self-Directed Support Services.

A grant from the Walmart Foundation helped us launch Project Employ and development of our Person Centered Planning program.

Moving Forward

The strength of our organization is in our grassroots membership throughout Oregon. In partnership with our local chapters, other disability organizations, and individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, The Arc Oregon looks forward to many more years of advocating and serving people statewide.

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