Frequently Asked Questions

Have some questions?

L’Arche is a pretty different place – different from many of our fast-paced lives and different from other facilities that provide services to people with disabilities. Find answers to frequently asked questions below. Don’t see the information you need? Email us at

Core members or core people are the adults with intellectual disabilities who have chosen to make L’Arche their home. They are called core members because they are at the core of our community, and because of the similarity to the French word “cœur”: heart. Core people are at the heart of everything we do.

People with intellectual disabilities, their life experiences, and their gifts, are diverse. But every person, with or without an intellectual disability, has something unique to them that the world needs. Here at L’Arche we recognize that we need each other’s support.

According to the World Health Organization, an intellectual disability means a “significantly reduced ability to understand new or complex information and to learn and apply new skills (impaired intelligence). This results in a reduced ability to cope independently (impaired social functioning), and begins before adulthood, with a lasting effect on development.”

An assistant is a trained caretaker who supports core members. They support core members with everything from brushing teeth, preparing food, taking medication, getting to and from places, and much more. They do not do things for core members, they do things with core members, with core members leading assistants in learning and growing as people.

L’Arche Greater Washington, DC is part of the L’Arche International Federation and a member of L’Arche USA. We work with these governing bodies but operate as an independent organization. We have a Board of Directors that oversees our operations as well as an Executive Leadership Team. We are licensed service providers in DC and Virginia where we follow all local and national guidelines for service provision.

Read our section “Becoming a Core Member” to see if you or your loved one is eligible. Since we offer lifelong homes we rarely have openings. If you don’t live in northern Virginia or DC check out the L’Arche USA website to see if there is a L’Arche community near you.

L’Arche, the French word for an ark, as in Noah’s Ark, was the name given to the original home in Trosly, France that was founded in the 1960’s.

Check out our Get Involved page to see the many ways you can be part of L’Arche! We are often looking for new assistants to support core members in our homes.

L’Arche GWDC is an interdenominational Christian organization. We welcome people of all faiths and no faiths, and seek to support each of us on our individual journeys. Around the world, L’Arche communities embrace various faiths and philosophical traditions.

About 2/3 of our funding comes from DC and Virginia Medicaid for the provision of services for people with disabilities. The other 1/3 is generously contributed by individuals, foundations, churches, and others. Donations are the reason we are able to live full, community-based lives where everyone’s needs are supported and, for many of us, dreams realized. If you would like to contribute check out our donation page.

It takes a lot of effort and patience to start a L’Arche community, usually taking 5 years or more to find space, raise money, become licensed, etc. Contact L’Arche USA if you’re interested in starting a L’Arche community where you live.