In 1983, Rainbows was formally established in Chicago, USA by Suzy Yehl Marta (died 2013) following a personal divorce. She could not locate any services to support her children at that time. Thus, the Rainbows programme and service was founded to provide support for children and young people, experiencing a significant loss through death and separation or divorce. The programme and service has grown and developed across the USA, into 28 countries and at present is growing and developing in Africa, Japan. Rainbows is well present in The UK, Canada and Australia.
In 1988, Rainbows Ireland was formally established as an organisation by the Presentation Sisters. Sr Elizabeth Maxwell and Sr Cecilia Molloy trained in the USA to deliver the Rainbows programme. On returning to Ireland, thirty six volunteers were trained to recruit and train volunteers across the country.
Since then Rainbows has been grown and developed in over six hundred locations throughout Ireland. These locations are predominantly in school settings, family resource centres, parish centres, youth projects and other social agencies. The Rainbows service is open to all children and families of all religious beliefs and none.
The National Office was established in 1997 in The Loreto Centre, Crumlin Road, Dublin 12, to handle the overall administration of Rainbows in Ireland.