The Arc Receives ACF Award of $1.87 million for National Autism Resource and Information Center

Washington, DC – The Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD), within the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, announced yesterday that The Arc would receive an award of $1.87 million for fiscal year 2010 to establish a national resource and information center on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities.

The Arc, in collaboration with several key partners will implement an innovative and dynamic initiative, called Autism NOW: The National Autism Resource and Information Center to engage and leverage a national network of disability, aging, military, and family organizations to deliver information and resources relevant to individuals with ASD and other developmental disabilities.

“The Arc and our partners are primed and ready to build a dynamic resource to address the needs of people with ASD and other developmental disabilities through this national network. We are proud to have the opportunity to launch Autism NOW, a much needed resource. It is especially significant that self-advocates will have a meaningful role in leading, implementing and realizing the goals of this innovative project,” said Peter V. Berns, CEO of The Arc.

Other partners include the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), and Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE) to provide expertise from the self-advocate perspective. For research expertise in key areas across the lifespan in ASD and other developmental disabilities, The Arc has partnered with members of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) Network, also referred to as UCEDDs (University Centers on Excellence in Developmental Disabilities), the Institute for Community Inclusion from the University of Massachusetts, the Developmental Disabilities Institute from Wayne State University, and the Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies from the University of Maine.

For deep policy expertise in areas of autism, family support, health care implementation, and aging, partners incude Brandeis University’s Heller School of Public Policy and the National Council on Aging (NCOA). The Arc has engaged a national dissemination team that will connect efforts to key stakeholders in every state and territory in the United States, including the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD), National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), the National Military Family Association (NFMA), National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), and the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD). Other key autism organizations will also be included in the Center’s activities.

The project will be led by Ann Cameron Caldwell, Ph.D., the Chief Research and Innovations Officer for The Arc and Tonia Ferguson, Special Projects Director.  “The new National Autism Resource and Information Center will fill a great need in the autism community by providing high-quality resources and information on community-based services and interventions for people with ASD and their families.  The Arc understands the challenges that families face; and we also recognize the vast contributions that people with ASD and other intellectual and developmental disabilities make to our societies and communities,” Caldwell said. “We are proud to have people that identify as having ASD or other intellectual and developmental disabilities (self-advocates) as full partners leading and implementing this initiative.”

“Autism is a heart-wrenching condition that presents special challenges for many families,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “We want families to know that we are listening to them, and
the release of this grant award, brings us one step closer to providing the resources needed to improve the quality of life for people with ASD and other developmental disabilities.”

“People with ASD and other developmental disabilities face significant challenges in accessing the supports they need,” said Commissioner Sharon Lewis of ADD. “This new center will serve to connect people with ASD and their families to services and activities that promote self-determination, independence, and inclusion in the community.”