By-Laws & History

What does The Arc do?

  • We work to assist people with disabilities and their families in solving common problems and meeting the many challenges that face children, young adults, and senior citizens with disabilities.
  • We seek to enhance public awareness and understanding of people with disabilities.
  • We work to inform our members and others of vital issues that might affect access to education, training, employment or social opportunities.
  • We create important opportunities for families and others involved in the lives of people with disabilities to learn from and help each other.


The Arc-Dane County is a non-profit organization that believes people with developmental disabilities are valued members of our communities. We believe that people with disabilities have an equal right to education, training, job opportunities, and social supports necessary to fully participate in our committees.

1951 The first minutes of Madison Area Council on Retardation were recorded.
1952 MARC became a member of the newly formed WARC, Wisconsin Association for Retarded Children .
1952 First nursery for retarded children opened at the First Congregational Church.
1953 First class of seven students at South Side Community Center.
1957 A city-wide fund drive was conducted for the purpose of becoming eligible for entry in the Community Chest.
1958 Madison Opportunity Center opened with a $10,000 allocation from the Community Chest.
1960 A class for trainable children of Intermediate age was started. A separate group of parents formed a class for emotionally disturbed children that later became known as Portal Foster.
1961 Name changed from Madison Area Council on Retardation to Madison Area Retardation Council, Inc.
1962 MOC became a United Way Agency separate from MARC.
1962 Following the passage of the Wisconsin Day Care Services Act, an application for State Grant-in-aid and a Day Care application were approved.
1965 MARC leased the former Madison Lutheran School on Jenifer St.
1966 Pre-nursery Program for 1 1//2 to 3 year olds was organized. The Stoughton Nursery Program started. The Trainable Class was funded by Madison Public Schools and held at the Jenifer St. location. Name changed to Madison Area Association for Retarded children, Inc.
1967 First budget presented to Dane County. Behavior Modification Procedures established. Madison Public Schools assume transportation costs for school age children attending MARC programs. Mom’s Club formed.
1969 Sun Prairie Program started sponsored by Sertoma Club. Title I funds received for the first Home Training Specialist. MARC retirement plan approved.
1970 RFDF (Residential Facilities Development Foundation) was formed. Beginning of the Stoughton Adult Program.
1972 MARC Development Center moved to Lakewood School. Two Mt. Horeb programs-Nursery and Adult-were started. Ground breaking for RFDF-Orchard Hill. Information and Referral Service funded.
1973 Orchard Hill opened. Community employment began. MARC(Madison Area Rehabilitation Center) and ARC-Dane (Association for Retarded Citizens of Dane County).
1975 Citizen Advocacy Program was established.
1976 Mandatory education in Wisconsin for retarded children (chapter 115)
1977 MARC formed two corporations-The MARC Voluntary Services Corp.and The MARC Developmental Centers Corp.
1978 Voted to have two organizations-MARC Volunteer Service Board to serve all of Dane County and MARC Developmental Center Board to run the six Centers. Fran Bicknell served as President until the division was completed. Tony Frey became the Volunteer Services Board president and Bill Burns became the Developmental Center Board president.
1982 Dale Heights Group Home opened. There was a great deal of talk on mental retardation prevention.
1984 Sibling Support Program funded by Alliance for Children & Youth.
1985 Guardianship Committee formed
1987 Corporate Guardianship Program submitted to the state. Residential Services Committee formed to monitor group homes.
1988 By-laws were changed to totally separate the two organizations
1989 Wisconsin Family Community Trust established. Supported Parenting Project received grant of $5,000 from the city plus $9,000 support from United Way. ARC-Dane County disaffiliated with Arc-Wisconsin. Wisconsin Lifetime Services Corp. formed to oversee and monitor the lives of disabled persons after family members have passed away.
1992 Changed name to The Arc-Dane County. Re-affiliated with Arc-Wisconsin.
1993 The Arc-Dane County legislative committee sponsored county supervisor forums in member homes.
1994 Published The Arc-Dane County cookbook with brief oral and picture history.
1995 Co-sponsored legislative candidates forums. Dan Remick, President of People First, elected to The Arc-Dane County board of directors.
1996 Re-created sibling activities, including newsletters and sibling workshops.
1997 Co-sponsored legislative breakfast and sponsored Spring Ball (dance).
1998 Co-sponsored Fall Ball with the Dane County DD Coalition. Received DD Council grant to video tape parent forums for statewide use.
1999 Applied for and received a grant from Dane County for educating parents, self-advocates and providers about Self-Directed Services (SDS). Co-sponsored Legislative Breakfast with 200 participants in attendance. Adopted Mission and Vision Statements.
2000 Celebrated our 50-year anniversary on April 24 at the awards banquet held at CUNA. Published a policy advocating that we keep services and begin economizing where possible.
2001 First ever web page is established and in operation for The Arc-Dane County.
2001 Published a list of attorneys who are skilled in Guardianship in the Madison (Dane County) area. Held the first new guardianship workshops in three parts of Dane county.
2001 Conducted Self Determination workshops for Dane County high school teachers.
2002 People Can’t Wait grassroots advocacy organization was organized.
2003 Received grant from The Capital Times Kids Fund for conducting Job Development Workshops for Dane County HS Teachers.
2003 Expanded The Arc-Dane County’s web site to include the Guardianship information page.
2004 KASA project was organized– students served in a project at Madison Memorial High School.
2004 The Arc-Dane County assisted in conducting a survey of County Board Candidates.
2004 Advocated successfully for 2005 graduates and the Brain Injury Waiver to be reinstated in the 2005 county budget.
2004 Advocated successfully for MARC to stay open during the holidays as a result of negotiations among county staff, families and providers.
2005 Received a grant from WCDD and CUNA that allowed The Arc-Dane County to go through out the state and talk about the new special education law.
2005 Two of our members served on the Dane County committee to evaluate Self Directed Services.
2006 Assisted in planning the disability rally at the state Capitol.
2006 Conducted IEP and Guardianship workshops.
2006 Hosted a regional Long Term Care informational workshop at CUNA.
2006 The Arc-Dane County’s Executive Director served on the steering committee of a grant to plan Long Term Care for the Future in Dane and Rock Counties.
2006 New phase of Guardianship Workshops began.
2006 Assisted in planning, coordination of activities for The Arc-WI state convention held in Madison, WI.
2006 Advocated and presented testimony at the Dane County budget hearing.
2007 Received a generous contribution to provide Arc Dane County sponsored summer camperships. Distributed 3 camperships this year.
2007 Continued Family Care planning involvement with Dane County’s committee with representation provided by a past president of The Arc-Dane County.
2007 The Arc-Dane County re-affiliated with The Arc-U.S. after a 5 year non-affiliation due to unaffordable affiliation fees.
2007 The board of directors committed funds to 1) create an enhanced membership brochure and 2) hire a consultant to enhance the current web site.
2008 Worked with a pro bono marketing firm to conduct a membership needs assessment so that The Arc-Dane County can enhance services to better serve The Arc-Dane County membership.
2008 Continued to play an active role in promoting adequate funding in the Dane County human services budget by organizing family members and self-advocates to present testimony on any service cuts.
2008 Co-sponsored. With Imagine A Child’s Capacity and Stafford Rosenbaum law firm, an educational seminar pertaining to Wills and Special Needs Trusts.
2008 Worked with the State’s Protection & Advocacy agency, Disability Rights Wisconsin (DRW), to arrange a meeting of parents that had been denied service dollars in the Dane County Human Services budget.
2008 Created a Family Care Task Force consisting of one Arc-Dane County board member and several members of the Arc-Dane general membership to review and monitor Dane County’s decision-making process for implementation of Family Care.
2009 Added a new social function, Spring Ball, so that our membership, self-advocates, and community members have another opportunity for a social event. (in addition to the Winter Ball and Halloween party)
2009 Continued to monitor Dane County’s efforts to review and evaluate the potential for Family Care in Dane County.
2009 Decided that The topic of aging should continue to be researched by The Arc-Dane County and continue to be a focus in future years with information to be distributed to our membership.
2010 Celebrated 60 years of advocacy with the annual awards banquet on April 21, 2010 at The Madison Concourse Hotel and Governor’s Club.
2010 Celebrated 25 years of our annual fruit sale. Co-sponsored a seminar on Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities. Worked with Waisman Center LEND student team to write a grant proposal on Transition in the 21st Century.

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