CareBreak Respite Services

CareBreak respite services at the Watson Institute is a gift of time and energy given for a few hours a week by a committed volunteer to a family caring for a child with special needs.  CareBreak provides an opportunity for children and volunteers to become close through fulfilling, one-on-one experiences, while allowing the family to regroup.  Typically, CareBreak is provided in the family’s home.

Who is eligible to take part in CareBreak?

Families of children (birth to 16 years old) who have been diagnosed with a variety of disabilities, including autism, cerebral palsy and other neurological impairments from Allegheny, Beaver and the southern portion of Butler counties in Pennsylvania.

Make a CareBreak Family Request or contact us to find out if you are eligible to take part in CareBreak respite services.

Who should volunteer?

CareBreak volunteers are caring, compassionate people from all walks of life who enjoy children and want to make a difference in the lives of others.  They understand that supporting a family in need is one of the most powerful ways to improve the quality of lives in their community.

By giving their time, volunteers become close with the entire family and form long-lasting relationships.  Also, by choosing to volunteer in the CareBreak respite program, these individuals have made a commitment to the child and the family – often being the first unpaid person in the child’s life to do so.

CareBreak volunteers should have reliable transportation (may include personal vehicle, ride sharing services such as Lyft or Uber, public transportation, etc.) and be able to commit to at least 6 months of volunteering with the program.

If you are interested in the CareBreak volunteer program, fill out the volunteer form or contact us today for more information.

Why do these families need a break?

Because CareBreak kids require constant care, the only relief from providing care that a parent may get is if their spouse or other family member watches the child.  This does not allow parents to spend time together or with their other children.  the CareBreak volunteer gives the family a much needed break while their child with special needs is involved in social/recreational activities with a competent, caring person.

All CareBreak volunteers are provided with training prior to being placed with a family.

In order to volunteer with children, individuals are required to obtain clearances which include the following:

  • Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance;
  • Pennsylvania State Police Criminal Record Check; and
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation Criminal Background Check for individuals who have not resided in Pennsylvania for the past 10 consecutive years.

Nationally Recognized

CareBreak is a nationally recognized program by The Mentoring Partnership, receiving the Three-Year Striving for Mentorship Excellence award for meeting the benchmarks outlined by MENTOR’s National Elements for Effective Practice of Mentoring.

CareBreak is also a member of the ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center, the only national organization for respite programs in the U.S. The Watson Institute was selected to serve as the Pennsylvania State Liaison, working with ARCH-NRN to share information and resources with other respite providers in Pennsylvania.

carebreak-respite-service-provider-arch-2017                  Striving for Mentoring Excellence Web Badge


For more information regarding the CareBreak program, please contact MaryJo Alimena Caruso, CareBreak Coordinator, at 412-749-2863 or, or fill out the form below to schedule an appointment.