About The Arc
What is the significance of the word “Arc”?
“Arc” echoes our continuing relationships with The Arc New York (the statewide organization of which we are a chapter) and The Arc of the U.S. (the national organization with which we are affiliated). It also symbolizes our mission, which is to bridge gaps and build supportive connections between those we serve and their communities. We support people throughout the entire Arc of their lives from birth to end of life.
What is The Arc New York?
The Arc New York‘s mission is to advocate and provide support and services to people with intellectual, developmental, and other disabilities, emphasizing choice and community engagement.
The Arc New York, formerly known as NYSARC, was founded in 1949 to serve a critical mission – to improve the quality of life for people with developmental and other disabilities. What started as a support group and day nursery for families coping with these disabilities has grown to become the largest nonprofit in New York State serving those with developmental and other disabilities.
With 52 Chapters across New York State, The Arc New York supports more than 60,000 individuals, employs 30,000 people, and has a membership of more than 100,000. We offer programs and services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, provide programmatic, financial, compliance, and guardianship support to Chapters, and offer a variety of trust services to give people with disabilities the opportunity to remain in their communities with greater comfort and independence, while providing peace of mind to their family and loved ones.
What is The Arc of the U.S.?
The Arc is the largest national community-based organization advocating for and serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. The Arc encompasses all ages and more than 100 different diagnoses including autism, Down syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, and various other developmental disabilities.
Founded in 1950, The Arc was comprised of a small group of concerned and passionate parents and community members who would be catalyst for changing the public perception of children with disabilities. For the past 60+ years, The Arc has continued to grow and evolve along with the changing needs and issues people with disabilities and their families face.
With nearly 700 state and local chapters nationwide, The Arc is on the front lines to ensure that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families have the support and services they need to be fully engaged in their communities. The Arc works with its federation of state and local chapters to create an impressive network of human service agencies ensuring they have the strongest civil rights advocates promoting and protecting their needs at all levels.
About Intellectual and Developmental Disability
Are there any guidelines for language choices when writing or speaking about a person with developmental disabilities?
Words and the meanings we attach to them create attitudes, drive social policies and laws, influence our feelings and decisions, and affect people’s daily lives and more. How we use them makes a difference. Person First Language puts the person before the disability and describes who a person is, not what a person has. Using a diagnosis as a defining characteristic reflects prejudice, and also robs the person of the opportunity to define him/herself.” The Arc
What is an intellectual and developmental disability?
An individual is considered to have intellectual and developmental disabilities based upon the following three criteria: his/her intellectual functioning level as measured by an IQ test is below 70; he/she has significant limitations in two or more adaptive skill areas (which might include communication, self-care, home living, social skills, community use, self-direction, health and safety, functional academics, leisure and work); and the condition is present from childhood (defined as age 18 or earlier). Intellectual and developmental disability is not a disease, nor should it be confused with so-called mental illness. About 85 percent of people with the condition fall within the mild range of disability, whereas the remaining 15 percent have disabilities of varying severity.
There are currently hundreds of known organic and acquired causes of intellectual and developmental disabilities. For instance, the most common chromosomal cause is Down syndrome, whereas the most commonly known single gene cause is Fragile X syndrome. But these are only two of many different etiologies and make up a small percent of those diagnosed with the condition. In addition to the long list of organic causes, adverse environmental and social factors (which include poverty, lack of prenatal care, drug or alcohol abuse during pregnancy resulting in FAS – fetal alcohol syndrome) are placing greater and greater numbers of individuals at-risk for intellectual and developmental disability. In spite of all that is known, in 50 percent of all cases of intellectual and developmental disability there is no known specific cause.
What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (or ASD) is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders known as Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD).
The other pervasive developmental disorders are PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified), Asperger’s Syndrome, Rett Syndrome and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder. Many parents and professionals refer to this group as Autism Spectrum Disorders.
ASD is a “spectrum disorder” because it affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. There is no known single cause for ASD, but increased awareness and funding can help families today.
Employment Info for Individuals and Families
My child is in high school. Is it too early to think about his/her career options?
The earlier the better. Active transition planning starts as early as 14 years of age and is incorporated in the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) of your child. The early teenage years are the best time to explore school programs that will help your child build their skills to prepare for life and work after graduation. Toward the end of your child’s stay at school you are encouraged to explore programs that will continue the skill building and preparation for employment.
Our Choices Program is a unique person-centered way for high school graduates to learn about community integration, personal development skills, career goal exploration, participate in volunteer opportunities and secure employment, self-advocacy and adult life after high school. Through the Choices Program, students participate in role playing and team building projects that will prepare them to collaborate with their peers and mentors in real-world employment. The goal is to move to employment.
What if a person doesn’t know what kind of work they want to do, or might be good at doing?
Even if a person isn’t sure about what kind of work he or she wants to do, we can help. We use a process called person-centered planning through which we help people define their goals and dreams and then achieve them.
How do you get started with finding a job?
The first step to finding a job is to go Acces-VR. It stands for Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation and is part of the NY State Education Department. Acces-VR administers and provides vocational rehabilitation services to individuals with disabilities. Services are based on eligibility! You must apply to Access-VR to receive these services. To find out more about getting started with our career and employment services, contact:
Shari Lewitt, Director of Career Development and Supports
What kinds of jobs are available for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities with The Arc Westchester?
Over the years, The Arc Westchester has placed people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in a variety of careers. We work with each person individuality to determine their unique talents and will help them find the right job. We have people working in restaurants, stores, offices, schools and in production facilities. We have jobs for people who like being around people as well as for people who would prefer to be behind the scenes.
Employment Info for Employers
How do I know if partnering with The Arc Westchester is right for my business?
Companies of all sizes and types benefit from having a diverse and skilled workforce. Regardless of your type of business or the size of your company, we will work with you to identify how your needs could be met by one of our candidates. We work with all new employee partners to find the right person for their business needs.
What kind of companies have you successfully worked with in the past?
The Arc Westchester has placed individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities, as well as those with autism spectrum disorder, in long-term employment with retail stores, food service companies and restaurants, schools and education facilities, financial services firms, law offices and government offices. We work with a range of public and private employers, in the public domain and in the private sector.
How do I get started?
All of our employee partnerships begin with an in-depth interview with one of our career support specialists. After we gain an understanding of your unique needs and workplace dynamics, we will be able to recommend qualified candidates that have been pre-screened by our team. To find out more about getting started contact Shari Lewitt, Director of Career Supports, 914.495.4491 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What if I don’t need a full time employee? What if I need more than one employee?
We have several different employment options for individuals and for groups. We can also be flexible as to whether you are making a full-time permanent hire.
Is my company responsible for training the person/people we hire?
Arc of Westchester is responsible for all training of employees that we place with our partner organizations. We are very involved in all new employee introductions and trainings and we stay involved until the job is being done to your satisfaction.
We also check back in regularly, on a schedule that is predetermined with each employer, to ensure the employee is successful in his/her role.
How long can I expect an individual hired through The Arc Westchester to stay with my company?
Most of the employees that we have placed in employment throughout Westchester county stay in their positions for multiple years. In many instances, individuals will stay with an employer for more than five years.
Should I expect that an employee will continue doing the same job for several years?
As individuals grow and learn, their employment goals may evolve. Our staff continually works to assist individuals to identify their goals and to help define and refine the needed steps to reach these goals.
When an individual that we have placed in your company is ready to take on new responsibilities, a member of our team will assist in the training process.
What are the benefits for my company/business?
In addition to demonstrating that people with intellectual or developmental disabilities are contributing members of society, your company will also be gaining a reliable employee who values his/her ability to contribute to your business goals and is enthusiastic about being a member of your team. Your company may also be eligible for a Department of Labor tax credit.