The History of LARC Ranch

By Kathleen Sturkey, Executive Director

In 1959 a group of parents had a vision for a better life for their children, one that was filled with opportunity, growth, friendship, a sense of community and the comfort of a secure nurturing home.

The original setting was a small dorm like building with a recreational area and a school. It was important to these parents that their children would be strongly vested in education, recreation and socialization.  This was a time when if you had a special needs child, the physician’s advice was almost certainly to institutionalize your child. Professionals had little hope that these children would thrive or be educated. But LARC’s parents wanted more, a special place where their child would grow with dignity and respect.

Over the years their children grew to adulthood and the vision continued. The original residential housing was replaced by a large dorm setting. There was also the auditorium and in the indoor swimming pool. It would not be until the earthquake of 1994, that LARC’s dorm like setting would be replaced. In January of 2001, LARC’s residents moved into thirteen new 3000 square foot homes called the LARC Villas. These homes in their innovative setting form a neighborhood of their peers. It is a beautiful cul-de-sac set on LARC’s sixty-five acres of land in Saugus.

We have seen the residents thrive in their new homes. Many of them have grown with the new responsibilities and tasks to be performed within their homes. They have learned (according to their abilities) to assist with cooking, maintain their bedrooms, do household chores, do laundry, and to perform the tasks necessary to live comfortably in their homes. A resident council was formed and they have been busy as representatives of their households planning dances and special activities. In this new residential setting each residents can gain a new sense of purpose and pride in each accomplished task. These houses are their homes and therefore reflect the eight individuals living there with their house manager.

LARC Ranch offers a myriad of social and recreational activities all year round. They include LARC’s Travel Club, LARC’s Bowling Team, a very special partnership with Special Olympics, community outings, swimming, walking, bike riding, karaoke, bingo, the women’s club, the men’s club, the Aktion Club, dances, crafts, and the residential council.

LARC Villas are licensed to serve two separate age groups; we now have continuity of care for our residents as they grow older. LARC Adult Residential serves developmental disabled adults ages 18 to 59 and LARC Residential Care for the Elderly serves adults’ ages 60 and older.

LARC Ranch now consists of the thirteen homes, two services building which make up the distribution kitchen, multipurpose room and offices for administrative staff and doctors. There is the Firestone Administration building, the Holland/Gindi Annex amphitheater and pavilion, Hoffman/Feld Auditorium, Stanton Indoor Swimming Pool, the Clare Cummings Park, Operations, the original ranch house, and the Acker Sports Complex that houses the ADC Dayprogram and the Indoor Gymnasium.

The very successful model for LARC Villas is our HUD home, Apple St., which is located in Newhall. After ten years it continues to show us that good training and continuity of care assure that residents who once lived in LARC’s larger setting could successfully transition to a homelike environment.

As the Santa Clarita Valley grows, so does the need for residential and dayprogram care for persons with special needs. LARC’s two dayprograms serve both our residents and clients from the community. LARC Ranch is the largest facility serving the Santa Clarita Valley. LARC’s Day Training Activity Center, LARC Industries, has grown to capacity. Due to this growth LARC Ranch will be starting a third Dayprogram in the Fall 2007. LARC Industries consists of vocational training and contract piecework. LARC’s Adult Development Center (ADC) consists of residents and dayclients who have greater physical and/or behavioral challenges. It is the goal of ADC to assist clients in maintaining their skills and abilities.

LARC has had many requests for tours of the new facility. It is with great pride that I see each tour of individuals or groups marvel at our new community the LARC Villas. I invite all of you who have not seen our residential program to come see what a marvelous residential setting we have in the new LARC Villas.