On May 15, 1959, the Jackson County Retarded School was founded in the industrial district, east of Newport by Ms. Alma Black to provide services for her child with developmental disabilities and others like him because there were no other services available and children were not integrated into the school systems at that time.
The agency was built as a residential facility. Within this setting, children and adults both lived and went to school. On June 28, 1976, the school was re-organized and re-incorporated as Jackson County Learning Center. In 1985, consumers were moved off-site into group homes and the facility was used for day services only.
On June 30, 1986, JCLC closed all of its services to children (residential, pre-school and school-age) and became a training facility for adults only. In 2014 Jackson County Learning Center changed its name once again to Arkansas Center for Independence to better align with the organization’s mission of providing services and supports to allow consumers to become more independent.
Arkansas Center for Independence is still operating its day program in the original location; however, funds are currently being raised to build a new facility in the middle of town.