The Arc of Tuscaloosa County
Programs & Services

No one, with or without a disability, has attained a quality of life that is beyond improvement. If a high quality of life is to flourish for people with cognitive, intellectual, and developmental disabilities, we must overcome discrimination, change expectations and create opportunities. THIS IS WHAT WE DO AT THE ARC OF TUSCALOOSA COUNTY. It’s been our mission since 1957 when we were chartered as a local chapter to The Arc of the United States.

The Arc of Tuscaloosa County currently serves more than 250 adults. Our programs and services include activity programming, prevocational training, supported employment services, personal and systems advocacy, family counseling, personal care services and dissemination of information to the community. The Arc of Tuscaloosa County has three programs, each with its own area of training emphasis:

McGraw Center offers Day Services through community-based education, prevocational and adaptive daily living skills training, and support. Instruction is administered in academics, prevocational skills, communication, and personal care and hygiene.

Palk Enterprises offers Day Services that enable the individual to refine prevocational skills and increase productivity through participation in sub-contract activities and through participation in mobile crews at several sites in the community. Instruction is administered in the areas of safety and appropriate work-related behaviors.

PESE (Palk Enterprises Supported Employment) provides assistance with completing job applications, learning interviewing skills, and achieving competitive employment in the community. Ongoing support is provided once placement on the job is achieved to assure employee/employer satisfaction and long term job retention.


Interested in working with us? Click here to see career opportunities!

The Arc of Tuscaloosa County provides community-based training programs through volunteerism and paid employment in the community.  By helping the individuals that we serve to become active, contributing members of the community, we fulfill our mission of overcoming discrimination, changing expectations, and creating opportunities.

Hourly Services

Hourly Services are provided by The Arc of Tuscaloosa County to promote the specific interests and needs of people with disabilities.  They are provided in the home, community, or other setting chosen by the individual or the family.  These services are provided to promote independence and inclusion in the community and self-determination.  There are three types of services:

Personal Care

Services in the home are to promote skills in the activities of daily living which include: bathing, toileting, grooming, dressing, exercise, meal preparation, assistance with eating and incidental household cleaning and laundry.

Assistance in the community includes accompaniment, coaching, minor problem solving necessary to achieve the objectives of increased independence, productivity and inclusion in the community.  This could include transportation, shopping, banking, social interaction, recreation and leisure activities.

In-home Respite Care

Respite care is a service provided in a family’s home that gives temporary relief to the unpaid primary caregiver.  Respite care provides short-term care to an individual for a brief period of rest or relief for the family and is provided during those portions of the day when the caregivers typically provide care. 

Sounds of Joy Choir


From jazzy big band tunes to old gospel hymns, the Sounds of Joy has performed for organizations throughout Tuscaloosa County and beyond.  The message the choir conveys is clear: Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities possess many abilities.

Reflecting the spirit of The Arc, the choir does, indeed, make a joyful sound.  Comprised of consumers, staff members, and volunteers, plus one hard working director, this is a great program at The Arc of Tuscaloosa County.

Founded in 1998, the Sounds of Joy performs for thousands of individuals annually.  Organizations that have enjoyed the delightful sounds include The United Way of West Alabama, The University of Alabama, United Cerebral Palsy Telethon, Alabama Special Olympics as well as many civic organizations and churches in the county, just to name a few. 

The choir is supported through donations from local organizations and individuals.

If your organization has a special event coming up or would like to just experience the Sounds of Joy, call The Arc of Tuscaloosa County, (205) 556-4900, to book the group.

Project SEARCH

The Project SEARCH High School Transition Program is a unique, business-led, one-year, school-to-work program that takes place entirely at the workplace. Total workplace immersion facilitates a seamless combination of classroom instruction, career exploration, and relevant job-skills training through strategically designed internships.

The goal for each student participant is competitive employment. The program provides real-life work experience combined with training in employability and independent living skills to help youths with significant disabilities make successful transitions from school to productive adult life. The Project SEARCH model involves an extensive period of training and career exploration, innovative adaptations, long-term job coaching, and continuous feedback from teachers, job coaches, and employers. As a result, at the completion of the training program, students with significant intellectual disabilities are employed in nontraditional, complex and rewarding jobs. The presence of a Project SEARCH High School Transition Program can bring about long-term changes in business culture that have far-reaching positive effects on attitudes about hiring people with disabilities and the range of jobs in which they can be successful.

Eligibility for Project SEARCH

Project SEARCH serves students with significant intellectual and developmental disabilities. Typically, these are students who are on an Individual Education Program (IEP) and in their last year of high school eligibility. The most important criterion for acceptance into Project SEARCH is a desire to achieve competitive employment.

Project SEARCH Overview

Students attend the program for a full school year in the host business/hospital. The business provides access to an on-site classroom that can accommodate up to 12 students. The site is staffed by a special education teacher and one to three job coaches to meet the educational and training needs of the students.

  • Once the school year begins, the first few weeks of the program are focused on new employee orientation, hands-on skill assessment, and familiarization within the business environment. Students develop a career plan which guides the internship selection process and individualized job search.
  • Employment Skills Curriculum: Throughout the school year, the students work on employability and functional skills for approximately one hour of their day. Classroom activities are designed around these focus areas: Team Building, Getting Around your Workplace, Workplace Safety, Technology, Social Skills, Communication, Presentation Skills, Interviewing Skills, Money Management, Health and Wellness, Job Search Skills and keeping a Job.

For more information about Project SEARCH, please contact our PESE Center at (205) 758-1875.

We LIVE UNITED! Thanks United Way for having us sing yesterday at the Kickoff! We had a blast!!! August 15, 2018


The time is now to be a part of all the amazing things we are doing at The Arc of Tuscaloosa County. If you are interested in finding out ways to SERVE, DONATE or just be INVOLVED let us know.