Our Story

“Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.”

- Lilo Pelekai, Lilo & Stitch

If you have a developmental disability or love someone with a developmental disability, then here at The Council, you are family. And you will not be left behind. And you shall not be forgotten. At the heart of our mission is the notion that every life matters, that differences are to be embraced and celebrated. The Council commits itself to every Kentuckian with a developmental or intellectual disability, at every stage of life. From prenatal diagnosis to the end of life, we strive to be your advocate and your friend.

Our Mission & Vision

We are a small nonprofit with a great big vision: a society that includes, values and empowers children, youth and adults with developmental disabilities. Our mission is to initiate positive change on behalf of our constituents. The Council is a Louisville-based nonprofit that provides advocacy training, support, crisis intervention, information referral, guidance and outreach activities to families, to their children and to adults with autism-spectrum disorders, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, seizure disorders, and the spectrum of developmental and intellectual disabilities. We have been affiliated with Metro United Way as a partner agency for 45-plus years, and we are grateful for United Way's commitment to serving our community.

The Council helps families support loved ones -- providing training, information and one-on-one assistance to navigate the complexities surrounding special needs trusts, Medicaid waivers, guardianship and the education system. We are here to serve your family for a lifetime, offering training and empowerment through all the stages of your journey.

Our History

The Council was founded more than 60 years ago when newspaper publisher Barry Bingham Sr. printed an open letter inviting families of children with developmental disabilities to organize in mutual support. In 1952, a small band of parents responded to the call, joining together to form a private, non-profit parent association. Through the years, The Council's advocacy initiatives have led to changes in laws, services and expectations that have reshaped the culture and the landscape for all Kentuckians with developmental disabilities.

A few milestones include:

Education advocate. In the 1950s, The Council founded the legendary Stevens School, one of the earliest schools in the nation to integrate children with developmental disabilities. (Twenty years before kids with developmental disabilities were allowed, by law, to attend the public schools!) For more than six decades now, we have been strong advocates of educating children with disabilities. It is at the heart of our mission and work.

Program creator. The Council developed several innovative enterprises to serve people with disabilities. These programs were later transitioned to public or private organizations for ongoing operation. Successful spinoff ventures of The Council include ZoomGroup, one of Kentucky’s largest providers of vocational services for adults with developmental disabilities; enTECH, an assistive technology center at Spalding University; and Custom Quality Services, a non-profit whose mission is to create jobs in an integrated setting for people with disabilities and others who face barriers to employment.

Change maker. In 1999, The Council brought 52 organizations together around a vision for services for people with developmental disabilities with the organizing of the Coalition for Quality and Choice. The Coalition’s efforts led to an unprecedented increase in expenditures to serve Kentuckians with disabilities.

Public policy leader. The Council was a leader in the movement to pass the Adult Protection Registry, legislation to help prevent the abuse, neglect and exploitation of older adults and individuals with disabilities. After a six-year push, The Registry was successfully passed into law in Kentucky in spring 2014.

Arts advocate. In 2009, The Council opened Weber Gallery, a venue designed to bring together professional artists and artists with disabilities for joint exhibits, Today, the gallery focuses on outreach through art-making projects that engage individuals with disabilities to express themselves through the creation of art.

Community partner. The Council was recognized with a 2014 Imagine Award for its work on behalf of people with disabilities. The Imagine Awards, presented by the Rauch Foundation, celebrate those committed to making a better community and world for people with disabilities.

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