About NYSARC

“NYSARC’s mission is to advocate for persons with intellectual and other developmental disabilities in every manner possible.  In its advocacy role, NYSARC is committed to a full quality of life for every person, as it recognizes the challenges of the present and has a clear vision for the future.”

NYSARC was founded in 1949 to meet a critical mission -- to improve the quality of life for people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities. We do it by:

  • Providing support, information, direction, and services for people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities;
  • Having one of the best service delivery systems in the nation;
  • Including family members, self-advocates, and professionals in all matters;
  • Continually building training and educational opportunities into all aspects of NYSARC, Inc. operations.

Our roots are more humble. We started with two Bronx mothers in February 1949 placing an advertisement for other parents interested in establishing a day nursery. Two hundred people showed up. They agreed to unite to support their children with developmental disabilities and by March, had incorporated and started their advocacy.

The organization, then known as the Association for Retarded Children (a term we abandoned decades ago), became a singularly effective advocate for all people with developmental and intellectual disabilities and has been replicated across America.

Today, we’re a leading advocate in both New York and the United States. We have successfully lobbied for:

  • Educational opportunities for children with intellectual and other developmental disabilities.
  • Fully-integrated classrooms.
  • Removing people with developmental disabilities from the facilities that simply warehouse them to give them a chance to live in their own homes, and to work a fulfilling career.
  • The Health Care Decisions Act applying to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  This act was the major breakthrough in New York Law affecting end of life decision making.
  • Helping initiate and enact legislation to nullify the Schaffer v. Weast US Supreme Court Decision in New York State that gave the burden of proof to parents in special education decisions.  The law we initiated put the burden back to school districts in New York State for hearings contesting special education services.

We’re also a critical service provider through our 55 county-based chapters, providing supports and services in every county in the State.

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