The Beginning

The Arc of Central Alabama had its beginnings in 1953 when a group of parents concerned about the education of their children with intellectual and developmental disabilities came together to form the Association for Retarded Children and establish a school.

The school was eventually named The Opportunity Center School and continued to grow at its location at 215 21st Avenue South until 1978, when legislation established special classes in the public schools for all children with disabilities until age 21.

Since that time we have focused our efforts on early intervention services for children from birth to three years and on day and residential programs for adults age 21 and older who have intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The Arc

With grants from the Alabama Department of Mental Health, we added our first work training facility, Arc Way Industries on 1st Avenue North, in 1985, and a second Day Program Center off of Highway 79 in 1992. In 1996 we changed our legal name to The Arc of Central Alabama and finished the annex to our main campus on 21st Avenue South.

In 2005 we acquired The Arc of Blount County.  The Arc opened The Tom Leonard Center in 2006, to provide day and vocational services in the Hoover/Vestavia Hills area.  In subsequent years we took over a three-home residential program serving 25 people that had been operated by UCP of Greater Birmingham as well as The Saint Andrew’s Residential Program, which served almost 30 people in four homes.

In 2014, The Arc of Jefferson County moved its main campus to the former Salvation Army Youth Center in Crestwood and also took over the services for more than 70 people from the Jefferson Blount St. Clair Mental Health Authority.  To better represent the portion of the state we serve, in 2018 The Arc of Jefferson County underwent a name change to become The Arc of Central Alabama.

The Arc is a proud chapter of The Arc of Alabama and The Arc of The United States.  We are also the Department of Mental Health’s designated provider for Region V Emergency Crisis Care for individuals and families in crisis in Alabama.