Mission & Values


The Arc promotes and protects the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and actively supports their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes.

Core Values

People First
The Arc believes that all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are defined by their own strengths, abilities and inherent value, not by their disability.

The Arc believes that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are entitled to the respect, dignity, equality, safety, and security accorded to other members of society, and are equal before the law.

The Arc believes that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities belong in the community and have fundamental moral, civil and constitutional rights to be fully included and actively participate in all aspects of society.

The Arc believes in self-determination and self-advocacy.  People with intellectual and developmental disabilities, with appropriate resources and supports, can make decisions about their own lives and must be heard on issues that affect their well-being.

The Arc believes that society in general and The Arc in particular benefit from the contributions of people with diverse personal characteristics (including but not limited to race, ethnicity, religion, age, geographic location, sexual orientation, gender and type of disability)

Guiding Principles

Participatory Democracy
The Arc acts to ensure that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their parents, siblings, family members and other concerned members of the public have meaningful opportunities to inform and guide the direction of the organization’s advocacy, including determining policy and positions on important issues. The Arc strives for diversity in its leadership, as well as in all facets of the work of the organization.

Visionary Leadership
The Arc leads by articulating a positive vision for the future of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and catalyzes public and private support in realization of that vision through carefully planned and well-executed goals, strategies and actions.

Public Interest
The Arc represents the public interest, supporting and acting with and on behalf of all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families regardless of the type of disability or membership in The Arc.

The Arc works with individuals, organizations and coalitions in a collaborative fashion. The Arc values and promotes effective partnerships between volunteer and staff leadership at all levels of the organization.

Transparency, Integrity and Excellence
The Arc conducts its business with integrity, accountability, and open, honest and timely communication. The Arc is committed to quality and excellence in all it does.

The Arc of California believes:

  • Every person has the right to grow and develop in nurturing environments that are free from abuse, neglect and exploitation, free from disease, and safe from injury.
  • Developmental disabilities affect all areas of life.
    Knowledge of the causes and ways of preventing developmental disabilities is growing enormously.
    Current prevention programs are inconsistent and inadequate.
  • Comprehensive prevention programs require the application of biomedical advances, public education, access to health care, and the elimination environmental contaminants.
    Prevention programs are most effective before conception, during pregnancy, at birth, and during childhood.
  • All developmental disabilities are not preventable.
  • The Arc of California is committed to reducing the incidence of developmental disabilities through education, research, advocacy and the support of families, friends and the community through programs such as:
  • Genetic counseling, mandatory immunization programs for children, prenatal, perinatal and postnatal education and health care programs, education, policy and programs that prevent traumatic childhood injuries, newborn screening programs for known metabolic disorders, removal of environmental contaminants.

Families begin life as parents of a child with disabilities with no special preparation. To effectively meet the challenges of raising their child, families have an ongoing need for practical information about their child’s disability, services available in the community and how to find the appropriate program. These can be very isolating, confusing times for families.

The Arc of California through its statewide network of Local Units:

  • Offers families opportunities to meet, learn, and receive support from other parents with similar experiences.
    Gives families expert information and direction on where to go for services and how to negotiate the bureaucratic maze when they get there.
  • Endorses the family-centered approach to : developing any plan defining the appropriate support for their family.
  • Believes in and advocates for lifelong family and individual support to provide care and enhance the quality of the individual’s life.
  • Local Units offer information and training enabling families to make informed decisions and to coordinate services for their family member.

In the past 50 years, a strong state/federal partnership has developed to provide benefits, supports and services for the people The Arc of California serves. The Arc of California’s mission statement directs the association to provide leadership in the development of the human and financial resources necessary to attain its goals. The Governmental Affairs Committee reviews current and anticipated proposals of the State Administration and the Legislature’s agenda for the year. The professional staff pursues a broad legislative agenda which encompasses the budget and appropriations processes, as well as our ongoing interests in entitlement and discretionary programs. The volunteers actively participate in the legislative process by providing testimony, voicing our positions and influencing public policy as it is being created. The Arc of California monitors the implementation of legislation affecting its citizens in order to assure that the administration of these programs produces measurable benefits that reinforce the values of the association.


The Arc of California and its local Units place a high priority on gainful employment for all people. We offer programs that provide training experiences to prepare people for competitive employment in the community. Employment settings are researched and developed by specialists seeking opportunities that match and yet appropriately challenge the abilities of the people we serve. There are many different types of employment programs:

  • Programs are selected for an individual after careful evaluation of their abilities and interests.
  • Pre-employment programs are tailored to meet a variety of skill levels addressing a wide array of employment issues such as: grooming, work behavior and interviewing skills.
  • Vocational specialists work to develop the specific skills, habits and productivity levels that WIll enable the employee to advance to more challenging types of work.
    Employment opportunities vary from Work Activity Programs operating within an Arc to Group Community-Based
  • Employment to Individual Supported Employment in the community. Job coaches accompany each new employee for training, supervisory and technical support during the initial phase of employment and continue on an ongoing basis as needed. Our employees earn real wages, scaled to their real work and become tax paying citizens.

The Arc of California is committed to securing opportunities for the people we serve to choose where and how they live and play. Consistent with this commitment we advocate for and support the development of residential and recreation options designed with the understanding that:

  • The family home is usually the first source of support for living, social and leisure expenses.
  • Successful living options or recreation programs must address an individual’s needs and preferences.
  • The supports and services must meet these needs and be of high quality.
  • Funding and supports must follow individuals and not be tied to a location.
  • Living option choices must include the same choices, with appropriate supports and services, of people without disabilities.
  • Recreation activities help develop higher levels of physical fitness and energy. .recreation and leisure options should reflect those of people without disabilities.

The Arc of California’s executive directors and senior management staff are encouraged to participate in the California Conference of Executives (CCE), and the National Conference of Executives (NCE). CCE is committed to providing opportunities for professional support and development of executives of The Arc of California and other interested professionals. The purpose of CCE is to support and promote the mission and goals of The Arc of California by:

  • Providing in-service, training, education and the exchange of ideas and experiences.
  • Providing a system of communication thus allowing the sharing of information and materials relative to their respective positions or programs.
  • Encouraging the initiation and development of acceptable practices and procedures for staff and administrators.
  • Providing assistance and suggestions from professional perspectives to various components of The Arc of California.
  • Promoting cooperation and collaboration on common issues with developmental disabilities related agencies.
  • The Arc of California’s grassroots membership is one of our greatest strengths. Membership in The Arc of California as an Individual, Local Member Unit, or Associate Member offers many benefits:
  • Participation in the affairs of the local, State and national chapters of The Arc;
  • Access to Arc’s network of information, technical support and programmatic resources;
  • Direct involvement in formulating local, state and national public policy on issues effecting the constituency we serve;
    Opportunity to contribute time and talent through volunteering;
  • Representation in local, state and national legislative processes;
  • Support of public’s awareness efforts on the needs, rights, abilities and preferences of our population;
  • Access to specially designed insurance, credit card, telephone, and other individual or organizational support programs;
  • Promotion of progressive research.