Our Organization

A man in a power wheelchair sitting at a table with dinner laid out in front of him.

Our Mission

“Our world will be a better place when all people are treated with dignity and respect, have access to similar opportunities in life and enjoy the same rights and privileges.”

Total Living Concept embraces these principles and works for their realization on a daily basis with citizens who experience developmental disabilities. We pledge our minds, our hearts, and our passion in service of these principles and the people supported by our agency.

To walk our talk with people, we obligate ourselves in the following ways:

Today We Will...

A woman is sitting next to a man who appears to be blind. She places her hand over his and guides his hands over the craft supplies.

…listen sincerely with our whole selves so that we may hear, learn, and understand how best to offer our support and assistance to each person. 

…seek out information, knowledge and expertise from others who may guide us. 

…acknowledge that establishing trust is built over time by doing what we say we will do and being present with people. 

…help people recognize, appreciate and grow their unique talents, gifts, and skills.

Tomorrow We Will...

…stick by people during times of uncertainty or when there are no obvious answers. 

…abide by a standard of power with people, not over them. 

…encourage people to seek advice and opinions from trusted others, even though it may differ from that we would offer. 

…work through our differences, disagreements and conflicts respectfully. 

…honor each person’s right to make choices that differ from those we think best. 

provide information, support and learning opportunities to assist people to understand the implications of choices being made. 

…follow through on our commitments and promises to people. 

…honestly and openly admit our mistakes and errors in judgment and draw lessons learned form these instances and move forward in a positive direction. 

…celebrate life’s joys and accomplishments in both big and small ways. 

…empathetically support people through life’s disappointments and sorrows. 

Tomorrow We Will...

A Vietnamese woman with grayish-white hair is standing in front of the countertop at Mod Pizza. She is smiling and making the "OK" sign with both of her hands held up.

Yesterday We...

Yesterday We...

Two Black men in causual dressy clothes are smiling

…made some mistakes, but we learned and tried again 

…were frustrated by lack of progress, but we learned and tried again 

…cried when bad things happened, but we learned and tried again 

…laughed, sang, and rejoiced in the success of people we support and we try to do that everyday 

…learned by listening to people in the collective 150+ years that our management team has worked in support of people with disabilities 

…found that we all want similar valued events to occur in our lives, family and friends to love and be loved by, comfortable places to spend time thinking, dreaming and reflecting, adventures to embark upon, passion for our most fervent desires, enchantment with the wonders of our world, hope for a positive future. 

Our History

Total Living Concept (TLC) was incorporated as a Washington non-profit organization in 1982. Like many agencies that started in that time, TLC offered support to people with developmental disabilities to live in congregated group home settings. TLC had 3 group homes, Rainbow, Oxford and Green River. About 8 people lived in each house. Group homes were the norm for community support from the late 60’s until the early to mid 80’s.

In the mid-80’s, the State of Washington developed and began contracting for Tenant Support services for people who could live on their own with limited assistance ranging from a few hours a day to a few hours a week. These services were later expanded to include Intensive Tenant Support for people who needed more extensive daily support. What was different about these tenant support agencies? It was a progressive movement that was based upon values and principles that acknowledged that people had the capacity to live in homes of their own provided they had the necessary support and assistance to do so. 

People with disabilities either owned or leased/rented their houses or apartments. Service agencies were no longer both landlords and providers of services. It was the intent that people with more significant disabilities no longer needed to be confined to living in a congregated group, though, as it is to this day, it was typical for people to live in shared households with at least one other person with a disability. An additional principle guiding the development of tenant and intensive support services was that services and support would be “portable” by evolving and changing with people versus forcing people to move through a continuum of less restrictive living situations. (Which, in practice, had historically left people with more significant disabilities “stuck” in congregated living indefinitely.)

In the late 1980’s TLC began investigating the possibility of moving people out of the group homes to their own homes by contracting as an organization offering Intensive Tenant Support services. The group homes would be sold and people would move into apartments and houses in South King County. Once again, people did not necessarily move into their own homes and were usually sharing places with at least one other person and receiving TLC services and support. People and not the organization, however, held leases and lived in houses and apartments in typical neighborhoods.

By the early 1990’s TLC had closed its 3 group homes and assisted everyone who lived there to move to a house or apartment. Some people choose to receive services from other organizations that continued to provide group home services. A number of people who lived in TLC group homes are still with the agency and now live in homes of their own. They choose where that home is and who lives with them, if anyone. And, they choose when, if ever, to move to another place.

TLC underwent many significant, and at times difficult and challenging, changes to get to where we are today. There were at least 3 financial crises in TLC’s history. We survived each time. Many people, including people supported, their families and some previous employees of TLC were opposed to the changes. A few people supported exercised their right to seek services and supports elsewhere. However, those who remained and shared the values and mission of TLC are happily living in homes of their own now. In 2002, under new organizational leadership, TLC determined there was capacity to offer services and support to additional people. As a result, between 2002 through 2008, 17 additional people chose to receive services and support from TLC and remain with the organization today.

It’s important to realize that TLC never set itself up as an agency that would only support people to live in their own homes, without anyone else who is a client of the Division of Developmental Disabilities living with them. What TLC did start doing was asking people where they wanted to live, with whom they wanted to live and what kind of support they wanted chosen places with chosen people, if anyone else lived with them at all. All but two people chose to either have no housemates, or chose as their housemates other, community members who were not also receiving services from TLC. Two people did chose to live with another person who had their supports organized by TLC.

In 2010, TLC began subcontracting for Pathway to Employment services and support for 6 people for whom we were providing Supported Living services because people were not comfortable with the other options available to them. Several other individuals who were receiving services and support had lost the day services support that had previously been available; were dissatisfied with options offered to them; or, were not being offered services and support for a pathway to employment. This led to additional subcontracts to create such opportunities for people we support. In 2009, TLC entered into a contract with King County Division of Developmental Disabilities and is now providing Pathway to Employment services and support to up to 15 individuals for whom we also provide Supported Living assistance.

In 2014 TLC began contracting with King County to provide Community Access services. At TLC we refer to this as our Community Guides supports. This contract now supports up to 20 people around South King County.

We bring our hearts, passion and best selves, striving always to be not just a good organization, rather a great one in the company of those for whom our values and mission resonate. We have gained a national reputation as an organization that attempts everyday to listen to and respond to the individual vision of each person who has chosen us to provide support and services. TLC invites and welcomes those who share our passion and great desire to support, promote and accompany people who choose our support and services as they seek and realize personally meaningful lives and full citizenship. In the words of the late Senator Edward Kennedy, we continue together on this journey:

“For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die.”

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