EP!C has been serving individuals with developmental disabilities and their families since 1950.
We began as a group of Peoria-area parents wanting to provide our children with education and opportunity, an unprecedented service for individuals with disabilities at the time. This founding group of parents established a school, incorporating it in 1957 under the name Peoria Council for Mentally Retarded Children, which later became the Peoria Association of Retarded Children followed by the Peoria Association of Retarded Citizens (PARC). Group founder and visionary Barbara Smiley was appointed the first Executive Director. The school became a place for their kids to discover their potential and cultivate their abilities- no matter their diagnosis.
In the late 1960s we moved to the Allied Agencies Center, where PARC individuals were able to receive comprehensive support at one location. PARC also founded the first early intervention program in the State of Illinois for children from birth to the age of three. We also expanded our services to include respite care for families that needed temporary, short-term care for a loved one with an intellectual or developmental disability.
Our first residential facility, the 56-bed Barbara P. Smiley Living Center, was built in 1970. We then added a second, 114-bed facility in West Peoria in 1977. During the 1990s and early 2000s, PARC transitioned its residential program from these large, congregate facilities to smaller homes for a more community-oriented and personalized approach to support and care.
As we grew and added new programs and services, our offices and service locations spread throughout Peoria until 1995 when we consolidated into one building on Townline Road. In 2013, we changed our name from PARC to EP!C, which stands for Empower People, Inspiring Capabilities.
What began as a service for ten has served over 600, enriching the lives of adults with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism, epilepsy, and other intellectual or developmental disabilities. We are also a resource for our participant’s families, offering support through care, information, and encouragement.