After eight years, The Arc and United Cerebral Palsy are calling it quits on their joint lobbying effort — the Disability Policy Collaboration — which will disband effective Friday.

The partnership, which began in 2003, allowed the advocacy groups to share the cost of lobbying the federal government on disability issues. But when the collaboration’s long-time director, Paul Marchand, retired last year, the two groups decided to go their separate ways.

“The Arc and UCP are like brothers and sisters,” says Stephen Bennett, president and CEO of UCP. “We have a very close relationship and will continue to have one but we had different views of where we wanted to go.”

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Bennett says UCP will be retooling its public policy focus to be broader in scope, allowing for state lobbying efforts and grassroots work in addition to the federal lobbying the organization has done in the past.

The group is hiring a new staff of five to six people and is looking to support the work that self-advocates across the country are already initiating, Bennett says.

Meanwhile, The Arc will retain all of the staffers from the collaborative effort and will continue the public policy work they’re engaged in, primarily at the federal level.

“This is a really critical time for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We need to organize like never before,” says Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc, citing recent threats to programs that benefit those with disabilities, such as the new health care law and the Medicaid program. “We’re looking at this as an opportunity to redouble The Arc’s commitment to federal public policy work.”