About Us

Mission Statement:

The Arc of the Shoals is committed to securing for all people with intellectual disabilities (ID), the opportunity to choose and realize their goals of where and how they learn, live, work and play.

We are further committed to providing advocacy and educational services for people with ID, their families, and the community at large. It is our mission to provide quality programs which are person and family driven, as well as value and outcome based.


The purpose of The Arc of the Shoals is to provide personalized, appropriate and quality services for people with intellectual disabilities (ID).

The Arc of the Shoals believes people with ID have the same rights as all other people. They should be able to live, work and participate in environments that would promote as much independence as possible in the least restrictive, appropriate setting.

We believe each person has the capacity for growth and development; and each person deserves access to quality services which enhance development, productivity, and capacity for social interaction with others. Services and supports provided through a habilitation process should be developed and coordinated by “Person Centered Plan (PCP)” team of which the person, his/her family (if appropriate), and other service providers are a part.

Our History

In 1958 there were no educational opportunities for children born with intellectual and developmental disabilities(I/DD). A group of concerned parents got together and formed Muscle Shoals Association for Retarded Children.

The first program operated by Muscle Shoals A.R.C. was in a home owned by First Baptist Church of Sheffield. The A.R.C. later petitioned the state to gain control of the previously condemned Valdosta Elementary School. When the request was granted, Hope Haven School was born.

Hope Haven initially served persons of age five and older with developmental disabilities(DD) in Lauderdale, Colbert, Lawrence, Franklin and Marion counties. In 1972 a new building was constructed on the property and the programs expanded.

In the early 1980’s the federal government passed a law requiring schools to provide educational opportunities for persons with DD. At that time Hope Haven became an adult training program, serving people age 21 and over.

In 1994 the name was changed to The Arc of the Shoals, following an action taken nationwide by chapters of The Arc. The new name focused on peoples’ abilities, not on their disabilities.