A time existed when persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities were virtually invisible. The prevalent attitude supposed they were incapable of learning and functioning in society. Parents faced difficult pressure and had few options. Many mentally challenged persons were sent to live in institutions, sometimes in deplorable conditions. Others were cared for at home, but remained in the background of daily life. Mental retardation, as it was called at the time, was considered an affliction and not a comfortable topic of conversation.

In 1949, group of concerned parents met in New York City to seek opportunities for a better, more inclusive life for their children with special needs and a support system for parents. They formed the Association for the Help of Retarded Children, the forerunner of NYSARC, our current state organization, and of The Arc, the nation's largest provider of services to persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities.


Fifty years later two local chapters - Cayuga ARC (est. 1953) and Seneca ARC (est. 1976) merged to form Seneca Cayuga ARC. In December of 2015, the agency changed its name to Arc of Seneca Cayuga to provide a stronger identity in the community. A stronger, financially efficient agency now offers more personalized choices for treatments and services in inclusive settings throughout our community.

With more opportunities today, persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities continue to demonstrate the ability and desire to participate in community life in more meaningful ways. The effect has been a gradual move away from the delivery of services in group-oriented programs toward more individualized options.

Arc of Seneca Cayuga reinforces these options through its person-centered approach. Individuals can select how they wish to reside, work, pursue leisure activities, and participate in the community with the comfort of knowing they will receive training, transportation, equipment, and supports in a safe and welcoming environment.