spurwink|ri began in 1982 as the Spurwink School II, a subsidiary of the Spurwink School from Portland, Maine. The appeal of the Spurwink School II program was that services were offered to children and youth with serious emotional disabilities and their families in a setting that was community-based.
The children lived in homes with foster parents, who were spurwink|ri employees, and attended a special education school operated by spurwink|ri. Treatment services were provided by clinicians at the school and supported by the foster parents. A study conducted in 2004-2005 demonstrated the effectiveness of this approach and documented the gains made by students, enabling them to return home or to other permanent living arrangements.
In 1984 spurwink|ri was incorporated as a separate non-profit corporation and received the IRS designation (501)(c)(3) as tax-exempt. In 1988 the agency began to serve adults with developmental and behavioral disabilities. Services now include 24-hour residential care, support for individuals living in their own homes, supported employment and support to parents with disabilities at-risk of losing their children because of possible neglect. The school in Lincoln now serves childrenfrom Providence, Pawtucket, Central Falls and other communities. spurwink|ri serves over 175 individuals.