By Their Side History

By Their Side is a charitable non-profit corporation and tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The organization was established in 1965 as a charitable trust by parents at the (now called) Arc Maryland who wished to assure their sons and daughters with intellectual/developmental disabilies would continue to have an advocate even after their parents passed away. The organization was initially called Maryland Retardate Trust, and later know as Maryland Trust for Retarded Citizens or MTRC. As originally conceived, volunteers made visits and provided small gifts to the sons or daughters of parents who had made a will provision for enrollment.

Enrollment reached 200 in 1984, and the program model was updated. 1) Paid professional advocates completed annual assessment visits, often at the annual planning meeting when services for the year can be influenced, with follow up to identified concerns and report to remaining family or trustee; 2) Families could contract for and direct their advocacy services by selecting the frequency of visits/monitoring contacts as well as when their advocacy services would begin e.g. upon the passing of the parents/sponsor or sooner; 3) Background information such as individual history, advocacy needs, preferences and dreams, and family wishes and concerns were systematically gathered for each member and compiled into a Family Information File to guide future advocacy efforts. 4) Each sponsoring family paid a joining fee to allow investment and growth of funds to support the lifelong advocacy services that would begin upon the passing of the parents/sponsors.

In 1992, a restatement of the program required sponsors arranging additional advocacy services to establish funding for those services, for example through a trust fund, will provision, or insurance, to assure the organization's ability to provide the requested services for each individual. As a family-funded service, the organization is responsible to provide the services arranged by the family and is not guided by changing State priorities and activities.

In 2003, the organization requested and received approved by the IRS as a 501(c)3 charitable nonprofit corporation because it no longer operated as a charitable trust.

Concurrent with the national movement to support the dignity of individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities and eliminate usage of the term mental retardation, in 2007 the Board of Directors adopted the new name, By Their Side, Inc. to represent it's mission and services.

In 2015, By Their Side continues to focus on providing the visits and monitoring with follow up to address preferences, needs, or concerns, as well as advocacy in meetings, as arranged by each family or Trustee. Informative presentations continue to be held in conjunction with an annual sponsor's luncheon. Updates are offered via newsletters, and information and referral is provided. As similar needs are identified, By Their Side has joined or formed short term multi-agency work groups to explore needs and solutions. We partnered to start the Maryland Sibling Network in 2014, and in 2015 are starting a multi-agency focus group to explore needs and resources for families planning for the future of an only child.

By Their Side is a Maryland non-profit advocacy organization that partners with individuals and their parents, siblings, and/or Trustees to assure individual health and safety needs, rights, preferences and dreams, and life enrichment opportunities are addressed. By Their Side continues to address the question of its founding parents, "When we are gone, who will be by their side?"

For a complete history, see our timeline.