In 1974 a group of dedicated parents came together to form the Association for Retarded Citizens of Shelby County, with the initial purpose to serve as a support for parents of children with “mental retardation”. After several years of assisting other organizations with direct services, in 1988 the organization opened an early intervention program to serve children birth to five with developmental delays. In 1999 the organization launched a supported employment program to meet the needs of adults with developmental disabilities. Since 2002 the organization’s realm of services increased to better meet the needs of the ever expanding Shelby County population. The name of the organization was officially changed in 2004 after a comprehensive strategic planning process to reflect people, not labels and the organization became “The Arc of Shelby County, Inc.” The mission statement was further revised during strategic planning in 2010. "The Arc of Shelby County provides services and supports that empower individuals with developmental disabilities and their families throughout their lifespan to live happy, successful and productive lives." In 2010 The Arc of Shelby County introduced a Transition Program for High School students and in the summer of 2011 added a High School Student Employment Summer Preparation Program.
The Arc of Shelby County has grown from a small support group into an advocacy agency that has had direct contact with more than 900 children and adults with developmental disabilities and their families in the 2010-2011year. The organization has watched the capacity to provide life-changing programs and services to individuals’ blossom into a potential to provide tools for improving an already strong and growing community. As the organization moves forward into the growth that our future promises, The Arc of Shelby County looks forward to the continued partnership with The United Way of Central Alabama and other community partners.