When families find it hard to locate services needed for their loved ones with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), they can turn to The Arc Jacksonville?s Advocacy Department, often known as ASK.? ASK ? which stands for Advocacy, Support and Knowledge ? serves all age ranges and can point them in the right direction.

ASK is led by Vice President Sarah Sullivan and advocacy specialist Ami Caswell. Both are parents of a person with I/DD and know what it feels like to have to search for resources.

?It?s my life,? said Temple. ?I live it as a parent, it?s not a career.?

In addition to providing support and guidance to individuals and families ASK is also actively involved in community affairs. Temple and Caswell participate in the Family Care Council, financial literacy groups, the Mayor?s Disability council and much more. They also host several trainings and workshops for parents and families throughout the year and operate two email groups that keep families and I/DD professionals up-to-date with events, legislative changes, resources and more.

The advocacy department has done an exceptional job at listening and responding to the needs and wants of parents and family members and could be considered the unseen guiding force behind many of the services and programs The Arc Jacksonville currently provides. ASK helps create a voice in the community for people with I/DD and through services offered they?ve created more opportunities for the I/DD community as a whole. Programs and services such as Club Arc, On Campus Transition and Xperience as well as the Guardianship Program and Pooled Trust were created from these needs.

?Advocacy serves as the pulse of the community for the needs not being met,? said Temple.? ?We help put together services that come from the genuine desires and needs of parents and families.?