Toll Free: 1 (877) 533-7098
Phone: (717) 920-2727
Fax: (717) 920-2730
2569 Walnut Street, Harrisburg, PA 17103


In 1953 a group of parents whose young children had intellectual disabilities gathered together at the Jewish Community Center in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. At that time, children with intellectual disabilities were typically sent to live in state institutions away from their families. These parents were committed to keeping their loved ones at home, but had few resources. Even the public school system would not accept students with intellectual disabilities.
Out of that first meeting a group was developed called the Association for Retarded Children (ARC). Over the years the terminology changed and the organization pledged to support people of all ages with intellectual disabilities. Today, we are known as The Arc of Dauphin County, which is not an acronym, but still pays homage to the original organization founded by committed parents all those years ago.
The founding families supported one another in keeping their loved ones at home, and advocated for social change. Their advocacy led in part to the right to a free public education for all students, regardless of ability level, and later to a move away from state institutions and into community-based settings.
While families were meeting in Dauphin County, others across the country were doing the same. The Arc rapidly became a national movement which now boasts chapters in each of the 50 states as well as a national organization located in Washington D.C. The Arc of Dauphin County is proudly affiliated with The Arc of Pennsylvania, The Arc of the US, and other local chapters across the state and nation.
Today, The Arc retains its family focus, but has expanded to meet diverse needs of people with intellectual disabilities and their families. Advocacy remains a core value of The Arc of Dauphin County. Other current Services include individualized and customized training, respite camping, financial services, education, public awareness, and referrals.