A new national clearinghouse designed to connect families with developmental disability resources in their communities is expected to be up and running by the start of 2011, organizers say.

A group of disability advocacy organizations were awarded $1.87 million from the federal government in September to start the new initiative known as Autism NOW: The National Autism Resource and Information Center. Though the name emphasizes autism, those behind the center say it will offer resources for people with all types of developmental disabilities.

Organizers said this week that the center, which will work primarily through a website, will be up and running by Jan. 1.

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“It is a center that will bring proven and effective, community-based solutions to families and individuals,” says Ann Cameron Caldwell, who’s heading the project as chief research and innovations officer at The Arc. “It’s not about a cure. It’s about what works now in the communities where people live.”

In addition to The Arc, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and Self Advocates Becoming Empowered are helping to develop Autism NOW. Self-advocates are expected to be central in the planning and operation of the center.