Back in the 1950s there were not many services for children with disabilities and education of children with disabilities was not mandated. In 1957, a group of parents spearheaded by L.H. Laird, from Madison County, Illinois, got together to fight for their children's educational rights. The parents pushed for funding, new legislation, and the elimination of discrimination against their children. As a result, the Madison County Association for Retarded Citizens was created. Our name was changed in 1988 to The William M. BeDell Achievement and Resource Center.
ARC expanded in 1978 by adding developmental training (DT) for adults, now Community Day Service (CDS). This program not only performs functional living skills training but is also a job for participants.
L.H. Laird was the first parent to push for equality for children with disabilities.
Our Family Support Unit (FSU) was established in 1979. This program offers services to individuals and their families, promoting each individual's ability to maintain living in the least restrictive environment appropriate for their needs in the community. Case coordination activities may include assistance with medical, financial, residential, day program, advocacy for the individual's rights, serving as liaison to social service entities and many other on-going casework services.
In 1981, our administration office and school moved into a building that was donated by the American Oil Company in Wood River, Illinois. The school previously operated out of this location. In 2014 a new building was constructed for the education of children ages 3-21. The School Program provides educational services for students who are referred by the local school districts. ARC serves students with severe, profound, and/or multiple disabilities, who are 3-21 years of age.
ARC opened our first Residential Program, known as a Supported Living Arrangement (SLA) in 1980. The Residential Program, now known as Community Integrated Living Arrangement (CILA), provides an opportunity for adults with developmental disabilities to live as independently as possible in the community with needed supports. These smaller group homes allow individuals to live in a house in the community and receive services in accordance with needs identified in their Individual Service Plans (ISPs).
Today we serve approximately 550 individuals per month. ARC has over 125 employees working across Madison County. Our ability to provide high quality support services to people with disabilities is directly dependent on the experience, knowledge, and professionalism or our staff.
1988 the Agency was renamed after William M. BeDell (pictured above).
Osborne began working at the agency on April 4, 1979. He became the Executive Director in October of 1988. Gary expanded the service of the organization tremendously when he wrote a successful grant application that launched the Family Support Program and the Residential Program which now serves over 150 individuals and families each month.
Under Mr. Osborne’s leadership, ARC constructed a new facility in 1990 to house the Developmental Training Program (now CDS). Located on Culp Lane in Alton, this program serves those over 21 years old who function in the moderate, severe and profound range of intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism and sensory impairment. Training includes motor development, dressing, grooming, eating, communication, independent living, vocational work skills, toileting and reduction of mal-adaptive behavior. There are 137 individuals served.
Osborne oversaw the construction of a new school building adjoining the ARC administrative offices in Wood River. The school serves 72 children ages 3 through 21 who are intellectually disabled. Many of the children have multiple health impairments.
Gary Osborne retired on April 30, 2019.
Gary Osborne, Executive Director from 1979 - 2019.