FAQs

What does “intellectually/developmentally disabled” mean?
How can my relative with a disability come to L’Arche?
Who comes to work or volunteer at L’Arche?
How many people live in a L’Arche community?
Must one live in the community to work in L’Arche?
Is L’Arche a religious organization?
Does one need special training to work in L’Arche?
How is L’Arche funded?
How does a L’Arche community get started?

What does “Intellectually/developmentally disabled” mean?

A person with an intellectual or developmental disability is just as fully a person and a citizen as is anyone else. He or she has the same range of likes and dislikes and character traits as any other person. Everyone has some limitations. People with developmental disabilities have limitations in their ability to learn and perform daily life skills that were manifested before 22 years of age. Some have other physical or emotional challenges. Often people who have developmental disabilities are less preoccupied with competition and success than is typical in our society, and they may have a keen sensitivity to relationships and a gift for celebration and for creating unity. L’Arche believes that people with developmental disabilities have important contributions to make to others, contributions that help to humanize our society. To find out more about intellectual/developmental disabilities, visit American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disability.

How can my relative with a disability come to L’Arche?

L’Arche communities in the United Sates serve adults with a diagnosis of intellectual and/or developmental disability. Each community of has its own admissions procedure. L’Arche communities grow slowly because of the unusual L’Arche model of shared life in households that are home to both the core members (people with developmental disabilities) and those who share life with and support them (assistants). However, L’Arche communities welcome friendships with families where someone has a developmental disability, and they often have social gatherings to which they invite friends and visitors. To learn more about admissions, contact the L’Arche community closest to you.

Who comes to work or volunteer at L’Arche?

Some people come to L’Arche because they are interested in the field of intellectual disability. They are drawn by L’Arche’s vision, which focuses on the gifts and contributions to our society of those who have developmental disabilities. Others come to L’Arche wanting an experience of life in community. The prospect of living together with people of differing intellectual capacity, social origin, religion and culture is attractive and the experience of building community around the weaker members of our societies challenges them. People find L’Arche a good environment for personal growth. Some people come to L’Arche because of a social justice motivation or because the spiritual dimension of L’Arche attracts them. L’Arche’s life together in solidarity with people who are easily marginalized, its simple and accepting spirituality and its ecumenical and interfaith dimensions attract them. To learn more about becoming a L’Arche assistant, please visit Become an Assistant.

How many people live in a L’Arche community?

There is no “set number” for how many live in a L’Arche community. Each community is located in the same city and may be comprised from one to eight homes. Each home usually has four to five core members and three assistants. However, this varies according to each individual community.

Must one live in the community to work in L’Arche?

Some communities have “live-out” assistants who share in daily life with core members but who do not live in the homes. Our recruitment coordinator can help you find the right fit based on your life stage and our current openings.

Is L’Arche a religious organization?

L’Arche’s primary belief is in the sacredness and unique value of every individual. From its earliest beginnings, L’Arche was built on respect and the valuing of difference. Fairly often, L’Arche members have roots in a mainstream Christian denomination. Others are Muslims, Jews, Hindus, or Buddhists; and some do not believe in God. While each community is encouraged to name its religious identity, everyone is welcomed and respected in their freedom of conscience among the spiritual practices. In L’Arche homes the norm is to say grace before the main meal and to light a candle and join in silent or spoken prayer after dinner. L’Arche does not proselytize but seeks to support each person in his or her own faith tradition. Read about our identity, mission, and charter to find out more.

Does one need special training to work in L’Arche?

Some people who come to work in L’Arche have experience working with people with disabilities, but most have not. The first requirement is that applicants have a desire to share life together in a community setting. In addition, one must be able to perform the duties as outlined in the assistant role description, e.g. , as a caregiver for people with disabilities. Besides training in skills for caregiving, L’Arche provides educational experiences on broader topics that help its members to reflect on their vision of humanity and to grow in their relationships with others.

How is L’Arche funded?

Each local L’Arche community is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Most of the local communities are funded from a combination of government funding and fundraising. L’Arche USA and its communities rely on the generosity of individuals, foundations, organizations, and congregations.Click here to support our work.