Arc Advocate and Amy's Mom

My name is JoAnn and I have been an Advocate with Arc for 10 years. My daughter Amy is 34 years old. Amy has developmental disabilities and Cerebral Palsy. I believe that having a child with a disability is a life-long avocation. Our family has been a member of Arc for over 30 years. Arc has truly been there for us and we consider them a part of our extended family. I feel that my work as an Advocate with Arc is helping to give back to this "extended family."

Advocacy is a priority at our agency. More than 50% of the people that call Arc for services are requesting advocacy. No other agency in our area provides this service. Advocacy is an activity that can be used to insure the protection of constitutional rights and meet social and emotional needs of people with developmental disabilities. The goal of advocacy is to enable people to develop to their maximum potential in the least restrictive and most normal setting that is possible for them.

Individual and Family Advocacy includes direct and indirect services. Our role can be as simple as referring people to resources and information in our library to more intense involvement such as going with a family to meetings and working together with the school team to ensure a good assessment or appropriate IEP. We can also participate in Due Process Hearings if the IEP is not being followed. Meetings have a different tone when an advocate is present. Most families tell us that their meetings are more productive and that they are treated with more respect when an advocate is present.

System Advocacy includes participating in numerous local and state committees and coordinating Action Alert teams that keep up to date on key issues and are available to respond to local legislators. Emphasis with Action Alert teams are in the areas of Education and Human Services as they impact our citizens with disabilities.

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