Advocacy. Information. Support.
The Arc of Whatcom County office is staffed Monday - Friday, 9:00 am - 12:00 pm. Our goal is to act as an information resource, linking persons with developmental disabilities and their families with available resources in the community. Several hundred individuals and their families, guardians and caregivers are served annually.
The Arc of Whatcom County sponsors a variety of educational programs / workshops focusing on current issues that concern persons with developmental disabilities and their families. Topics include guardianships and special needs trusts, long-term planning for special needs families, special health care needs, special education services, early learning issues, individual education plans, transition from high school to work, residential issues and concerns, legislative advocacy, self-empowerment and self-advocate training.
The Arc of Whatcom County provides vouchers for use by individuals and families with developmental disabilities for the purchase of household items or clothing valued to $50. Written referrals are received in our office from case managers, residential support staff, guardians and other caregivers. When self-referrals are made, letters of support from case managers or another professional in the developmental disabilities field are required for eligibility.
Families that need support with services and resources meet with a trained Parent Advocate to formulate a strategy to obtain services tailored to the needs of their family member. These needs may include special education services, futures planning for adult services such as guardianship, government assistance such as Medicaid or conflict resolution regarding standards of care.
Self advocates -- young adults with developmental disabilities -- learn the skills to utilize self-determination to meet personal priorities and goals. The various programs provided include person centered plans, monthly youth self advocacy meetings, safety awareness group sessions, inclusion presentations to the community and work site assessments.
Families needing information and education specifically related to Down syndrome are provided a trained Parent Advocate to address their needs. Families are also connected to other families to develop natural peer support through fun family friendly events through out the year.
Six hours of continuing education are needed to fulfill parental obligations in receiving Medicaid Personal Care funding to care for their family member. Twice a year the Parent Coalition Program conducts trainings tailored to meet the needs of these families.
In an effort to ensure that the needs of persons with developmental disabilities are met with appropriate health and social services, various opportunities exist. Our Local Leadership program offers families a chance to learn how to be effective advocates. Families are encouraged to participate in grass roots advocacy by writing their legislators, participating in seminars, telling their stories to their legislators at our Fall Legislative Coffee and obtaining updated information through our e-Alert list year round and during the legislative season.