Back in 1978, a small group of parents got together and formed PROUD, Parents Regional Outreach for Understanding Down Syndrome. They saw a need to provide support and information to families who had, or were expecting, babies with Down syndrome. Realizing the value of this resource, the parents applied for and received tax exempt status in 1980 for PROUD to become a non-profit 501(c)3.
Primarily working out of family's homes and having board meetings at kitchen tables, the organization found itself growing in numbers and funding in the late 90's, allowing the acquisition of a small office in Santa Ana. In 2000, the organization hired its first Executive Director. Then, in early 2004 came the new name for the organization - DSAOC, Down Syndrome Association of Orange County. Continuing to grow with support from families and the community, and outgrowing the small office in Santa Ana, DSAOC was fortunate to gain grant support to find a new location.
In October 2005, DSAOC opened its doors to the 3,000 square foot Center in Costa Mesa where it is currently located. The DSAOC Center houses an expanding resource library, board room and activity center where a wide range of activities and support groups are held. The organization, which previously focused most of its support on families who had children with Down syndrome between the ages of 0 and 5, has now grown to provide programs, services, resources and activities for all age groups.
Currently serving more than 2,000 families in Orange County and surrounding areas, DSAOC also assists educators, health care professionals, researchers and therapists with information, training and support materials. Affiliated with the National Down Syndrome Society and National Down Syndrome Congress, DSAOC is the only county wide organization dedicated solely to serving Orange County's Down syndrome population and their families.