Mards Inc.

"Serving Children and their Familes Since 1986"
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The Founder and History


Metro Atlanta Respite & Developmental Services, Inc. (MARDS) is an answer to the cries and prayers of parents of children with developmental disabilities. Parents of children with mental and developmental challenges found that in many cases they were unable to maintain employment, enjoy an evening out, go shopping, take vacation or even have a little time to themselves to rest because they were unable to find dependable childcare for their mentally or physically disabled children who were unable to take care of even the most basic of needs.
In 1981 those cries were heard by Gwendolyn Gilley-Conley, the Founder of MARDS, who was at the time a Teacher with the Atlanta Public School system in the Program for Exceptional Children. In response to those cries, the school system psychologist, Dr. Arletta Brinson and Mrs. Conley conducted a needs assessment to determine what the desires and priorities of the families were- and relief topped the list.
Five years later, in May of 1986 a group of parents, educators and business leaders joined forces with the founder- Mrs. Conley to form Atlanta Respite Day Care, a non-profit agency to address the growing community need for safe and dependable childcare for children with special needs. A few months later the summer enrichment program opened as the very first MARDS program serving children with special needs. In 1988 MARDS introduced two new programs- the After School program, and weekend respite, and in 1992 the services were further expanded to include inclusive early childhood intervention. In 1995 the name was changed from Atlanta Respite Services, Inc. to Metro Atlanta Respite & Developmental services, Inc. as a way to reflect the expansive and diverse work of the agency. In 1996 MARDS added a state funded Pre-K program, and in 2008 added a co-ed Charm & Etiquette program to its myriad of programs serving Atlanta’s youth. MARDS is unique because of the number programs offered in one facility and because there are few programs that provide complete developmentally appropriate programs for the special needs population.

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