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.