History & Future

Our History

A Rich Past

In the 1950s, a group of Spokane families sought positive solutions for their children with severe disabilities. The choices were very limited at the time. Public schools would not even serve children who could not negotiate the stairs or made too much noise.

One of the original parents, Kaye Epton, while serving in the state House of Representatives, created legislation allowing families, for the first time, to divert resources away from institutional care to community support. The Epton Act passed in 1959 remains one of the central legislative victories for persons with disabilities and their families in Washington State.

Using this new legislation, the Parents’ Cooperative Society established Merry Glen as a day program in 1961 and added a residential component in 1973. Some of the folks who started calling Merry Glen home back then still live with us today.

In recent history, the Parents’ Cooperative Society (now re-named the Family Co-op) has begun new day programs and coordinated the necessary resources to help other individuals, families, and communities bring this unique service model to more families in need.

Our Timeline


A small group of parents met for the first time to explore alternatives to institutionalization for their children.


Kay Epton was elected to Washington House.


The Epton Act passed.


Merry Glen opens as a day program.


Groundbreaking takes place for Merry Glen.


Merry Glen opens as a residential program.


Day Bridge opens as a day program.

Our Future

Looking Forward

The Family Co-op, through Merry Glen, has led the way in developing a more inclusive community. To continue that work, we are focusing our efforts on three key strategies for a 21st-century world.  NEED THE 3 KEY STRATEGIES

We are very excited about this future and how we can play a part in guiding it. We can’t do it alone, of course. We are, after all, a cooperative. We need your help.

If you or someone you know may be interested in being a part of the Family Co-op’s future please contact us.