Get Involved-Spotlight: The Arc of the Capital Area
The Arc of the Capital Area, a non-profit organization, is committed to promoting independence and choice by providing individualized services to adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The Arc of the Capital Area envisions a world where all people with disabilities and their families have the same opportunities as others to pursue full and productive lives.
The Arc of the Capital Area is a non-profit organization founded in 1949 by parents whose children with mental retardation were excluded from public schools and other resources readily available to children without disabilities. To address this void, The Austin Council for Retarded Children (now The Arc of the Capital Area) was formed to advocate for the education and welfare of children with mental retardation. Until 1975, children with disabilities did not have the same legal rights to an education as other children.
In the past 60 years, the programs and services of The Arc have evolved to address the ever changing and expanding array of issues affecting all persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as their families. Today we provide support services, case management and educational assistance to hundreds of clients of all ages.
Without the programs and services our organization provides, our clients might find themselves in vulnerable circumstances and/or at risk for homelessness, institutionalization, exploitation and serious health problems.
- One in six children in America has an intellectual/developmental disability (i.e., autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and learning disabilities).
- There are approximately 35,500 individuals in Central Texas with intellectual/developmental disabilities.
- Of those, an estimated 6,400 reside in households in which the primary caregiver is age 60 or older, and another 38% are between 41-59 years.
- 40% of families with a child with an intellectual/developmental disability live in poverty.
- 100% of older adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities live in poverty.
- 70% of incarcerated youth have intellectual/developmental/learning disabilities
Family & Caregiver Services encompasses an array of educational and support services for caregivers and families of children with intellectual/developmental disabilities, including academic coaching, Special Education advocacy, parent mentoring, guardianship services (we are a sole-source provider), support groups and educational workshops.
Adult Case Management coordinates a range of community integration services and supports to help adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities, most of whom have aging parents, achieve and maintain personal independence.
Basic Needs & Crisis Assistance provides access for people with intellectual/developmental disabilities and their families to medical/adaptive equipment and supplies, crisis assistance to help with housing, utilities, transportation, medical payments, child care costs and holiday assistance.
Juvenile Justice Services is the only program in Central Texas that works directly with local school districts, the courts and the probation system to provide educational advocacy and case management services to help youth in Special Education complete high school, stay out of the criminal justice system and become contributing members of the community (we are a sole-source provider).
Arc of the Arts is an innovative program that provides an artist studio for teaching art and music classes to people with intellectual/developmental disabilities (age 14+), an art gallery, and frequent art shows on-site and off-site, in which the artists sell their art and receive a commission. Working and interacting with the public in the gallery, learning job skills with our financial literacy training, and during our frequent art shows provides program participants social skills that tremendously enhance their ability to attain outside employment.
Training and Team Requirements
Volunteers and Staff are required to pass a background check.
Arc of the Arts Art Program: The Arc of the Arts offers art classes to adults and youth with special needs. Use your talents to help clients create collaborative pieces for the art gallery. In the past, students have painted, made jewelry, created sculptures and created one of a kind wearable art. . All talents are welcome no experience required!
Arc of the Arts Music Program: The Arc of the Arts Music Program wants to bring the wealth of music knowledge in Austin to our clients. We are looking for musicians and music lovers to teach about music, instruments and movement.
Academic Coaching: Tutor a child/teenager who has a developmental/cognitive disability. Academic Coaches assist clients with their homework and help them succeed in school.
This monthly client activity allows our clients the opportunity to practice social skills, meet new people and learn how to bowl. Help clients bowl and navigate the payment/shoe check-out process, provide encouragement and enjoy meeting some great people.
Movie Night: Join our adult case management group for dinner and a movie. This is a great opportunity to get to know our very special clients. Duties include serving pizza, playing board games, keeping clients company and more!
Event Planning Committees: Help in the planning and development of our two biggest fundraisers of the year, “Swinging Fore The Arc with Ed Clements” and the “Building Bridges” Art Celebration and Auction.
Board positions as well as internships are also available. Contact Genessee Klemm at 512.476.7044 or email@example.com to learn more!
- Keeps individuals who have disabilities out of institutions and living in the community.
- Provides a case manager to visit a person with a disability. For many, this will be one of the only people they see all month.
- Ensures that when a teen with a developmental disability gets into trouble, like many teens do, they and their family get the special advocacy and care that the justice system is simply not prepared to provide.
- When aging parents’ days of being able to care for their adult child with a developmental disability are numbered, your support makes it possible for that adult child to receive job skills, socialization, and independent living education and training, to enable them to transition to caring for themselves when mom and dad are no longer able to provide that loving care.
- Matches a child who has a disability with an academic coach to provide educational assistance
- Provides art and music classes for adults who have disabilities.
- Offers a place for our artists to show and sell their artwork. For many of our clients this is their only source of earned income.
- Offers a safety net for clients who are financially vulnerable
- Provide low or no-cost parent mentoring, special education advocacy, support groups, educational workshops and guardianship services for parents and caregivers of children with developmental disabilities.
- Creates a support network by for parents of children with disabilities.
- Makes possible client social events such as our Bowling Night or Movie Night. For many of our client this is one of the few times they leave their house each month.
- Assist an adult who is living alone receive basic supports such as household repairs or transportation to doctor’s visits.
- Help build the Crisis Fund. Purchase wheelchairs, adaptive equipment and provide critical emergency assistance to Arc clients and their caregivers.
Behind the words and numbers are people and families who depend on community support to help them deal with incredible challenges. Most of us take for granted the benefits of health, citizenship, access to services and a safe environment. The people we serve struggle daily with these issues and many others. That is why your support is so important.
Quotes from Volunteers and Sites Served
“Tommy’s life changed in the blink of an eye when a drunk driver hit him. He can no longer speak or feed himself or do any of the things most of us take for granted. But thanks to assistance from The Arc, a speech therapist is now teaching him to blink his words. Sounds so simple, but it is huge to us.” Suzanne, Tommy’s Mom
“When Jason entered 6th grade, it was a nightmare. He was teased and scorned, which led to a physical confrontation and Jason’s arrest by campus police and his transport to the Gardner Betts Juvenile Detention Center. We were told that we couldn’t see Jason and that Gardner Betts would keep him overnight until a hearing the next day. If not for Juvenile Justice Services, I really don’t know what we would have done.” Linda, Jason’s Mom
“I will never forget Tuesday mornings at the Arc of the Arts. We danced, played music, and sang songs. I became a better communicator, humble, more patient, and learned what life meant to me. I never anticipated the tangible benefits I would gain from The Arc of The Arts which have improved my life and career.” Charles Wagner, Volunteer
“When one of The Arc of the Capital Area’s Arc of the Arts students stands next to an amazing painting they have created and sold for $850, and says, ‘Hi, my name is Emily, and I’m an artist,’ we know that Arc of the Arts is providing a valuable service.” Deborah Green, 2010 Board Chair
“I have fallen in love with The Arc and the very special people they serve. No matter how much I give of myself they always give me so much more in return.” Jessica Spann, Volunteer
Audio and video for this post produced by Mike Lee