BCDD History


The National Association for Retarded Children (The Arc) was formed.The name would change several more times to The National Association for Retarded Citizens (1973-1981), to Association for Retarded Citizens of the United States (1981-1992) and finally The Arc of the United States (1992-2011). In 2011, the name was amended again to The Arc, United States. Each state has a state office as well as several local affiliates. For more information or to locate your local Arc visit the national website at http://www.thearc.org/.

The Maternal and Child Health Service started prevention, delivery of health services for children with retardation, and training of health personnel.

1955 - The U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare formed the Secretary's Committee on Mental Retardation.

1957 - The Boling Center was established by the University of Tennessee as the Clinic for Mentally Retarded Children at LeBonheur Children's Hospital.

Dr. Robert G. Jordan, Jr. directed the Center from its beginning until his retirement in 1984. Under his leadership the Center grew from a three-person, part-time clinic in the basement of LeBonheur Children's Hospital to a highly regarded component of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, housed in its own nine-story building. Dr. Jordan brought many millions of dollars in funding to the Center and the University.


1963 - The Clinic for Mentally Retarded Children was renamed The Child Development Center to reflect the broader population served.

1966 - The University of Tennessee Child Development Center was the nation's first recipient of a training grant from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the U.S. Public Health Service, marking a change in its mission from provision of service only to developing leaders in the field of developmental disabilities through interdisciplinary training. The interdisciplinary approach to service and training was established as the clinical model.

With this grant, the University of Tennessee established a University Affiliated Training Center, with the Child Development Center and its staff constituting the nucleus of the training program. Thus, the Child Development Center became the first of 19 proposed University Affiliated Facilities, now called University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research, and Service (UCEDDs), in the country.


1970 - The center moved into a new building constructed on a grant received from the U.S. Public Health Service.

1975 - A revision of the legislation allowed UCEDD administrative support to come from the U.S. Office of Social and Rehabilitation Services.


1988 - The Child Development Center was renamed the Boling Center for Developmental Disabilities (BCDD) to honor Dr. Edward J. Boling, the 17th president of UT and his wife, Carolyn P. Boling.  Dr. Boling passed away in 2015. Read more about Dr. Boling's contributions to the UT system.  

Recent achievements

2001 The Boling Center participated in a pilot project for Relative Caregivers to provide initial supports and services to relatives raising familial children.  The pilot project is now a fully implemented program of the Department of Children Services with multiple sites though out Tennessee.  The Shelby County RCP housed at the Boling Center serves over 1500 children each year.

2003 The Boling Center COE is part of a statewide network of five regional Centers of Excellence dedicated to improving behavioral and physical health services to children in or at risk of state custody by providing both consultative and direct services. Referral questions may include mental health, physical health, developmental, medication, or placement issues. 

2010 Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The COEs, in consultation with the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN), have developed three regional TF-CBT Learning Collaboratives, training over 190 clinicians and administrators from 32 community treatment agencies across the state. The COEs are providing ongoing support to the agencies involved in the Learning Collaborative and are planning new training. 

The Boling Center continues to seek out new opportunities for programs to address the myriad of needs in our community and state. These are just a few of the programs that have been a part of the history.  For more information on current programs and services click here

counselor and kids with art photo 

Contact BCDD

711 Jefferson Avenue
Memphis, Tennessee 38105
Phone: 901-448-6511
Fax: 901-448-7097