Respite Care

The Developmental Disabilities and Human Services (DDHS) specialization program partners with Family Empowerment and the Department of Developmental Services to offer the Campus to Community program as a service learning course. Students pursuing the service learning component will register for Community Service Learning (PSYCH 191M) for 2 credits.

Credits. The course is 2 credits. One credit is given for participation in weekly trainings and discussions (see Spire for day and time). One credit is given for 3 hours of field experience, in line with guidelines for internship credit hours.

Schedule. This course is offered every fall and spring semester. This course will be available during the summer starting summer 2023. Students are permitted to repeat the course.

Eligibility. DDHS students receive priority registration, but students across all majors and years are welcome to enroll.

Training. Students will participate in weekly training and discussion on various topics related to respite care. All students in the course have the option to receive free pediatric and adult CPR training (with first aid and AED).

Match. Students will be asked to complete a basic profile about themselves including, for example, their major, past experience with people with disabilities, hobbies and career goals. Students will be asked to indicate their preferences for their match. Students will be matched to participating families based on both student and family preferences. Students will be assigned in pairs to a family during the add/drop period. There will be an opportunity several weeks into the semester to reevaluate student-family matches.

Service. Students will go to family homes in pairs. This would allow students to split their focus between the person with a disability and any potential siblings. At the beginning of the semester, students will review the background information provided about the family and complete additional training with the family as needed. Parents/caregivers will not be leaving the house while students are providing respite care. With guidance from parents/caregivers, students will be responsible for designing activities for their visits.

Transportation. Students using their own cars to travel to the family’s home will be reimbursed for their mileage. Students are expected to carpool to their site. Transportation (e.g., Zipcar, Uber) will be covered for students without access to a car.

Cancellations. In the event that a family cancels, students should make their best effort to reschedule with the family. If no convenient alternative can be arranged, students should use the missed time to make plans for future sessions. If a student needs to cancel for any reason, he or she should notify their partner and the coordinator as soon as possible. If an alternate partner is available, the respite care can continued as scheduled. If no alternate is available, the family should be notified as soon as possible about the cancellation. Students should not go to their site alone.

Grading. Grading for the service learning component will be based on attendance and participation in the weekly class and family placement. Family cancellations will not affect the students’ grades, however unexcused student cancellations will result in a grade penalty beyond one per semester. Student grades will not be penalized for their partner’s cancellation.

This course is a designated “Service-Learning” course and endorsed by the office of Civic Engagement and Service-Learning at UMass, therefore it provides opportunities for students to engage in service outside the classroom that is guided by appropriate input from a community partner and contributes to the public good. This course also fulfills one S-L requirement for the UMass interdisciplinary Certificate in Civic Engagement & Public Service (CEPS). Please contact CEPS advisor Ellen Correa at if you are interested in applying to earn the Certificate.