Public Policy

Public policy making is an interactive system through which public problems are identified and addressed by creating new public policy or by changing existing public policy.  These identified issues may be addressed through a new proposed law, modifying an existing law or in a budget proviso.


Public policy is considered strong when it solves problems efficiently and effectively, serves and supports governmental institutions and policies, and encourages active participation by its citizens.


On October 21, 1935, a small group of parents gathered together in Seattle and Tacoma for the purpose of improving the lives of their sons and daughters who had intellectual disabilities. Within just a few months, they joined forces with parents in eastern and central Washington, and the birth of our country’s first grassroots parent organization dedicated to children and adults with developmental disabilities was formed.


For almost 85 years The Arc of Washington State has led the way for advocates who want their voices heard. We have fought for civil rights and inclusion in their communities for children and adults with developmental disabilities and their families.



One of the policies that we feel strongly about is the right for all citizens to live in the community.

Housing people in state institutions (called Residential Habilitation Centers or RHCs) is a very old policy from an era when the public did not want to see or interact with people with disabilities. When the proper supports are in place, every individual with I/DD can live in a community setting. Click the picture below to watch some short videos from people who have lived in our state’s RHCs. They share what it was like and why they love living in the community.


drawings of people with developmental disabilities, children and adults


Every year, statewide advocates identify public policy issues that affect individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. From these concerns, information and data is collected and compiled into user-friendly charts and documents that advocates can share with their elected representatives in the Legislature. Using that information, the Advocacy Partnership Project creates a Legislative Notebook for Developmental Disability Advocates each year before the legislative session begins. The Legislative Notebook is posted online each December at You will also find bills of interest, budget side-by-side and more.


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Public Policy Position Statements

The Arc of the United States appoints the Policy and Positions Committee which considers development of new position statements and revision of existing position statements. Statements are reviewed at least every six years. Chapters of The Arc, including The Arc of Washington State, have opportunities to provide input and the final drafts are reviewed and approved by The Arc US Board of Directors. The final step is presenting the position statements for approval by the Chapters at The Arc’s Annual Meeting.


The Arc’s position statements address critical issues related to human and civil rights, health care and treatment, and services and programs for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. Position statements are used to inform The Arc’s public policy agenda, as well as to provide the national platform of positions of The Arc for use by chapters at all levels of The Arc in its work – national, state, and local. The statements also serve to inform our constituency, stakeholders, media, and the general public on the prevailing organizational view on key issues.




Life in the Community Summary, Aging, Behavioral Supports, Early Childhood Services, EducationEmployment, Family Support, Health, Housing, Individual Supports, Financial Asset Building, Parents With I/DD, Sexuality, Spirituality, Transportation



Systems Summary, Addressing the Causes & Effects of I/DD, Long Term Supports and Services, Research, Support Coordination



Quality of Life Summary, Quality of Life




Rights Summary, Advocacy, Autonomy, Decision-Making Supports, and Guardianship, Criminal Justice System, Human and Civil Rights, Inclusion, Physician-Assisted Suicide, Protection From Mistreatment, Self-Advocacy, Self-Determination



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