Our History

History of tragedy inspired us to make a difference

In 1907, Edgar Allen lost his son in a streetcar accident because of inadequate medical services to save him. In response, Allen sold his business and began a fund-raising campaign to build a hospital in his hometown of Elyria, Ohio. Through this new hospital, Allen was surprised to learn that children with disabilities were often hidden from public view. Inspired to make a difference, in 1919 Allen founded the National Society for Crippled Children, the first organization of its kind.

Our history child with disability

The history of  “Easterseals”

In the spring of 1934, the organization launched its first Easter “seals” campaign to raise money for its services. In 1967, the organization changed its name to Easter Seals in response to the overwhelmingly successful campaign. In 2016, the name was modernized to one word, “Easterseals.”

Today, Easterseals UCP is one of 70 affiliates of the national Easterseals organization and is also one of 55 affiliates of the national United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) organization, one of the largest health nonprofits in the country dedicated to individuals living with cerebral palsy and other disabilities. After merging with Easterseals Virginia, Easterseals UCP NC & VA has more than 75 years collective experience of being a powerful force for our neighbors in North Carolina and Virginia who are living with disabilities.

Scroll through the timeline to learn more about our history

1940s and 1950s

Easter Seals becomes the leader in care for children living with polio. Easter Seals North Carolina, Easter Seals Virginia and UCP of North Carolina are each founded independently. UCP focuses on children living with cerebral palsy. Easter Seals Virginia builds a summer camp in Craig County, VA.

1960s and 1970s

Easter Seals North Carolina builds first architecturally barrier-free residential camp. UCP starts special needs childcare in local churches and then later builds centers. UCP is one of the first to build small Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) group homes and supported living programs. Easter Seals North Carolina, Easterseals Virginia and UCP of North Carolina each centralize their respective headquarters in Raleigh, North Carolina.


First summer speech, physical therapy and occupational therapy clinics. First stroke club (a forerunner of the Stroke Club network). First residential independent living program (students live at Camp Easterseals and attend community college). First volunteer drop-in respite care “Evening Out” in churches with Easter Seals trained volunteers. First Developmental Disabilities council grant for Respite Care in New Hanover County, North Carolina.


Received three-year federal grant for progressive mainstream model (which changed the camping industry in North Carolina). Received 3-year foundation grant to build statewide respite services. Influenced legislation for Medicaid waiver dollars for Individual and Community Services (ICS). 11 developmental day centers become inclusive. First rehab home health agency CON (the following year North Carolina changed application to require rehab, which changed the home health industry in North Carolina).


In 2004, Easterseals North Carolina and UCP of North Carolina merge to form Easterseals UCP (ESUCP). In 2010, ESUCP merges with Easterseals Virginia to form Easterseals UCP NC & VA.

First statewide provider of employment services. First statewide dual service provider (with mergers). First Multisystemic Therapy (MST) team in North Carolina. First statewide therapeutic foster care provider. Largest provider of Assertive Community Treatment (ACT).


Introduced new programs: NC START (Systemic Therapeutic Assessment Resources & Treatment), Virginia REACH (Regional Educational Assessment Crisis & Habilitation), Child First (providing early childhood mental health services), Autism Initiative (providing specific ABA services and building an autism informed IDD and mental health workforce) and opened EMPOWER afterschool and summer recreation programs.


Luanne Welch becomes the CEO of Easterseals UCP NC & VA (ESUCP). She utilizes her great turnaround skills to make ESUCP profitable and builds a purpose-based culture with a strong diversity, equity and inclusion foundation.


The Easterseals national office and its affiliates update their branding. The current Easterseals UCP logo is introduced.



EMPOWER program expansion includes a food truck and transition services. Launched Transition to Independence (smart home). Launched Cross Service Collaborative Care, primary care and care management agency development. Introduced Culinary Connections (cooking and wellness lessons that teaches independent and healthy lifestyles). Introduced Seniors and Veterans Enrichment (SAVE), which offers free services to combat loneliness and the need for quality time with seniors and veterans.

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