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arc community services

About ARC Community Services

In 1976, a small group of people dedicated to bettering the lives of marginalized women founded a residential program for women in Madison, Wisconsin. That flagship program, "ARC House," has since grown into a women's services agency operating 12 programs serving women from across Wisconsin and their children. ARC's specialized services and support help women reclaim their lives, gain awareness of their personal self-worth, and be empowered to make durable changes necessary to improve their welfare along with that of their children and families.

ARC is a private, non-profit agency specializing in the following:

  • Women-responsive substance use disorder treatment, including residential, day treatment and outpatient services
  • Services for pregnant women and women with infants and young children targeted at promoting the mother-child bond, healthy attachment, and healthy family functioning
  • Services targeted to reduce out-of-home placements of children and break multi-generational cycles of child abuse and neglect
  • Trauma-informed recovery services for survivors of prostitution and human trafficking
  • Community diversion on a residential and outpatient basis of adult women, especially pregnant and postpartum women, from the criminal justice system while providing for community safety
  • Women-responsive community-based treatment for women involved in the criminal justice system

Agency Values

Woven throughout every program and service are the core values that guide everything we do:


Creation of a safe environment through site selection, staff selection, program development, context, and material that reflects an understanding of the reality of women’s lives and is responsive to their issues. Women-specific services address women’s specialized treatment issues/needs and their barriers to recovery and are compatible with women’s orientations and is safe from exploitation; takes into account women’s roles, socialization and relative status within the larger culture.

Trauma-Informed Approach

Agency staff are aware of the prevalence of trauma among the women ARC serves and knowledgeable about the ways in which trauma impacts the women's lives and affects their recovery. ARC recognizes and responds to symptoms of trauma, actively avoids re-traumatizing women, educates women about the impact of trauma, and assists women in addressing the effects of trauma in their recovery plans.

Relational Model

ARC draws on this model of women’s self-development, pioneered at the Stone Center, Wellesley College, to explain the importance of relationships in a woman’s life in the process of her recovery. It emphasizes the centrality of relationships for women, considers their role as caretakers/givers, develops women’s support networks in the community, stresses the use of positive peer group development and women’s strengths, and addresses current relationships, especially children and family, as a means to recovery.


This service approach acknowledges the influence and importance of family, especially children, to the recovery of women and encourages family involvement when appropriate and addresses family issues in the woman’s treatment program.


Programming that provides for women and children’s safety by maintaining a women-responsive, child friendly treatment environment/culture/climate that is welcoming, protective, respectful, diverse and empowering.

Addressing Disparities

ARC programs have been committed to the elimination of racial and economic disparities by identifying and reaching out to communities of low-income women and their children of diverse ethnic and racial groups who are not usually served by mainstream programs. Our strategy is a “two-generation” approach that focuses on increasing the health and developmental readiness of at risk children, while at same time addressing the income, employment, housing security, child care, health, and parenting information needs of their families.

ARC provides community-based, integrated, multidisciplinary services within the family context, especially the mother-child bond. ARC works as an advocate to promote the system-wide adoption of women-responsive approaches to improve successful outcomes for women and their families. ARC services are family-centered and strengths-based. ARC recognizes the trauma experienced by the women referred to ARC programs, and works to create safe environments for treatment, empower women to exercise choice in their treatment, involve peers, family, and the community, and avoid retriggering traumatic experiences.

ARC develops and implements programs based on current research and best practices. ARC has been successful in creating innovative, women-responsive federal and state pilot and demonstration projects for high risk women, which are informed by independent program evaluations, and has been successful in sustaining these programs in the community.

View our 2021 Annual Report