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The Arc Announces New Chapter in Montana to Serve People With Disabilities and Their Families

Washington, DC – This month, The Arc officially announced the affiliation of AWARE, Inc. in Montana as a state chapter. The affiliation of AWARE will mark the first time in over a decade that The Arc will have a statewide presence in Montana.

“We are very excited to have such a strong partner in Montana and look forward to working with AWARE. Together, The Arc and AWARE will help provide individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout Montana a powerful voice,” said Peter V. Berns, CEO of The Arc.

Founded in 1976 as a non-profit corporation, AWARE delivers services for people with challenging mental health, emotional, and in some instances, physical disabilities, who otherwise would be served in a more restricted setting or perhaps would not be served at all.

With more than 900 employees in 26 communities across Montana, AWARE has been providing homes and training for adults with developmental disabilities and services for adults and children with mental illness for more than 30 years. Among AWARE’s services are group home living, supported independent living, supported employment and center-based employment.

AWARE provides:

  • case management for adults with developmental disabilities;
  • group homes for children needing personal attention and individual treatment for serious emotional disturbances;
  • case management for children and adults needing mental health treatment;
  • other youth treatment support services — family support, transitional living and treatment foster homes;
  • employment services for the chronically unemployed; and
  • transportation tailored to people with disabilities and special needs.

During their first week as a chapter of The Arc, AWARE participated in an invitation-only event at the White House. In February, 150 leaders of The Arc from across the country met with a variety of senior White House officials at a Community Leaders Briefing to ask questions and discuss issues facing people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). The session, held just for The Arc, included an unannounced visit from President Barack Obama and White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew. Many of the speakers, including President Obama, referenced the impact advocates from The Arc made during budget negotiations to protect Medicaid.

In becoming a state chapter, AWARE will be able to tap into the many resources The Arc’s National Office can provide. Larry Noonan, CEO of AWARE has expressed his interest in expanding the policy work that is being done in Montana. Noonan and his team are already very active with Montana’s Congressional delegation and in local politics throughout the state. The Arc will serve as an additional resource to them with support from our National Office’s experienced federal public policy team, a number of publications, newsletters and alerts about disability policy, and important updates straight from Washington, DC.

“Like The Arc, AWARE believes in promoting and protecting the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community,” said Noonan. “We share The Arc’s core values of people first, equity, community, self-determination and diversity.”

“Our affiliation with The Arc gives us the opportunity to be involved with folks from all over the country who are dealing with the same issues and problems we deal with in Montana. And the relationship helps with efforts to put AWARE’s Apostrophe magazine, a publication for, by and about people with developmental disabilities, into the hands of people across the country,” added Noonan.