The Arc Tampa Bay was founded in 1958 when six families in Clearwater, Florida, sought services for their developmentally challenged children. Within five years the group was chartered with the Florida and National Associations of Retarded Citizens. Focusing upon upper Pinellas County, Florida (the area north of Ulmerton Road), UPARC was serving 24 people by the mid-1960’s. The Junior Service League’s Play Parc preschool for severely handicapped youth merged with The Arc Tampa Bay to expand the services offered in the 1970’s.
In 1983 the Resident Home Association, which had met the challenge to open four group homes in the area, joined with The Arc Tampa Bay to meet more residential housing needs. As The Arc Tampa Bay services grew dramatically in the 1970’s and 1980’s, The Arc Tampa Bay Foundation was established to provide long-term fiscal health.
The Long Center was built in cooperation with the City of Clearwater, Florida, in 1990. The Arc Tampa Bay leases the expansive 75,000 sq. ft. building with office and program space for educational and recreational opportunities—including indoor basketball courts and proximity to an Olympic-sized swimming pool. This location provides natural opportunities for contact between The Arc Tampa Bay clients and the community of senior citizens, athletes, and others who participate in city-sponsored programs.
For over 50 years The Arc Tampa Bay has grown in scope and brought pride and dignity to our most vulnerable members of society. We aspire for individuals to discover options and assume responsibility for choosing their own lifestyles and forming their own destinies.
In 1997 community donations made it possible to establish a center for children and adult services in Tarpon Springs.
The Arc Tampa Bay has designed residential living arrangements for persons who require highly specialized services and support, as well as apartments for others who can live more independently. The 19 gracious homes are located in pleasant neighborhoods. Recent services have focused upon adults—and increasingly upon aging adults—but a home has also opened for disabled and troubled children from the foster care system.