Our History

CARC has a long history of providing services to people with developmental disabilities living in Southwest Louisiana. A group of parents and concerned citizens met in 1954 to form the Calcasieu-Lake Charles Association for Retarded Children, which received its charter in November of that same year. Three years later in 1957 the West Calcasieu Association for Retarded Children was incorporated. These organizations were instrumental in forming the first special education classes established in Calcasieu Parish.

In the fall of 1963 the Margaret Lewis Center was opened in the educational building of the First United Methodist Church in Lake Charles providing day services to 9 people. Also in 1963 the Calcasieu Training and Evaluation Center, known as CALTEC, was opened on Canvasback St. in Lake Charles to provide vocational training for people with disabilities 16 years of age and older. CALTEC would move to 4100 Legion St. in 1966 and change its name to Multi-Disability Sheltered Workshop.

In 1969 the Calcasieu-Lake Charles Association changed its name to Lake Charles Association for Retarded Children. In 1970 the Martha Street Center was purchased by the Association and Calcasieu Hope Centers was incorporated to include Martha Street and the Margaret Lewis Day Care Center. Calcasieu Hope Centers eventually included thirteen different units.

In 1973 the Sulphur Work Activity Center began providing services including vocational services for adults with profound disabilities. Also in 1973 the first early intervention program was established providing a formal education program for children with disabilities between the ages of birth to 3 years.

In 1976 the association again changed its name to Lake Charles Association for Retarded Citizens, reflecting the current thinking on the population being served. The association also began providing a place for people with disabilities to live at Maison d'Arc at 902 Canvasback in Lake Charles, the current site of our Egret St. Vocational facility, in 1978. The following year, the association also began providing respite services in the person's home to give needed help to the primary care giver.

In the years between 1981 and 1986 the CARC we know now came into existence. Beginning in 1981 the West Calcasieu Association for Retarded Citizens, the Calcasieu Hope Centers, and the Lake Charles Association for Retarded Citizens were merged to form Calcasieu Association for Retarded Citizens, CARC. Within this time period, in 1982 CARC closed Maison d'Arc and opened community homes at Oak Park Boulevard and 14th Street in Lake Charles. Over the next two years, four more homes opened at Cherryhill St., Tupelo, Fourth St. and Rosteet St. We still operate six community homes located now at 19th St., Rosteet, W. Sale Rd., Royal St., Reigel St. and Cherryhill St.

In 1984 CARC Adult Vocational Services moved to 902 Canvasback which still serves as our Egret St. Facility. The buildings vacated on Bilbo and Granger Streets were then turned over to the infant department. A Sulphur infant center would be added also. In 1987 having completed the merger, CARC could now proudly look upon 6 community homes, 3 infant centers and 3 vocational/work sites, a long way from its humble beginning in 1954.

In 1988 the Martha St. Center was closed and merged with the existing programs on Canvasback St. Also in 1988 CARC ventured into a new area of services provision by building the Hathaway St. Apartments. These apartments were for people with developmental disabilities who could live independently with help from CARC. This was the beginning of our services under personal care attendants and supervised independent living, services still provided by CARC today to assist people with their day to day living needs and teach them skills to become more independent.

Another merger occurred in 1993 when SWAC was closed and the men and women working there joined the Lake Charles CARC work force.

In 2006 CARC opened the Louie Street Apartments. This venture provided additional housing so the men and women with developmental disabilities could live more independently with assistance from CARC. This gem of a complex is a crown achievement for CARC, and most importantly for the people living there.

To provide more varied work opportunities for the men and women, a thrift store, Treasure Chest I, was opened in Lake Charles in January 2006. Because of the success with this store a second store, Treasure Chest II was opened in Moss Bluff in March 2010. Treasure Chest III was opened in Jennings in October 2011 and Treasure Chest IV was opened in DeRidder in August 2012. This expansion of services is especially significant as CARC has for years done community work, child development and supported employment in Jeff Davis Parish.

CARC is again moving into new areas. In September 2011 two Shared Living Supports Homes opened, each housing three residents. In November of 2013 two more Shared Living Supports Homes opened, each housing three residents, and Waiver Homes provide the opportunity for three people to live together in a three bedroom house and share the living expenses as well as support services. It also provides an opportunity for community inclusion and participation for people who do not want to live by themselves.

In 2017, CARC opened the Stroud Manor Apartments which provides affordable housing for eight individuals in Sulphur, LA.

This brings us to CARC in its current stage, a vital, growing, important part of the community of Southwest Louisiana and its economy, all based on its mission "Opportunities for People with Disabilities", so that they have the opportunity to live the fullest life possible. CARC continues to grow, to be innovative, and to tailor itself to the needs and supports of the people we serve, whether in work opportunities, living opportunities or child development.

Finally, for all the dedication and hard work that so many people, for over one-half century, put into the organization that we see today, we as a Community should be eternally grateful. Without them, there would be no CARC where there are opportunities for work, independence, education, and the enjoyment of life.