In 1951, the community council of San Mateo County in California established a study committee of parents of children labeled as “mentally retarded”. At the same time two groups of parents associated with local schools for the “slightly and severely retarded” started to meet. In 1952, the three groups combined to form the Parents Association for Retarded Children of San Mateo County (P.A.R.C.). The association incorporated as a nonprofit organization in July 1954. P.A.R.C.’s main objectives were “community recognition and understanding of the problems facing retarded children and their parents, support for national research, and advocacy for improvement of facilities and services for the retarded in the community”, (Brochure, 1955). P.A.R.C. was the first parent led organization in San Mateo County to focus on the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. Over the years, P.A.R.C. has changed its name and direction. While it was primarily an advocacy and funding organization, in 1983 PARCA started a group home for women.
Today Parca provides a wide range of high-quality services to people with developmental disabilities including independence training for adults, a recreational and educational child care program for children with and without developmental disabilities; respite care services for children and teens and family support services that include information, referral, recreation and social gatherings, advocacy and support groups.