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  • Respite
  • Advocacy (HOPE)
  • Chosen Families - Adoption Preservation Program
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  • Caregiver Support Sarasota/Manatee Respite Services (SMRS) is the Family Network on Disabilities’ comprehensive in-home respite care program. Through this program, a trained respite care worker provides occasional, temporary relief care to a child or children with a developmental or functional disability. This support allows parents and caregivers of children with disabilities and special needs to take a break, rest, or engage in other relaxing alternatives to their everyday situation, thus reducing the physical, emotional, and psychological stress they may experiencing.

    Other benefits of respite include:
    • New experiences for the family member with a disability or special needs
    • Stronger sibling relationships
    • Relief during illness
    • Help with appointments, errands, and attending to household duties
    • Opportunities for parents to spend time together and revitalize their relationship
    • Time for parents to be with other siblings in the home

    If you are uneasy about receiving respite care, understand everyone needs rest and relaxation once in a while. Some families may be reluctant to use respite because of a feeling of discomfort over what they see as relinquishing control over their child’s safety and well-being. Parents and caregivers who feel this way should know that staying home is also a perfectly acceptable use of respite services. You may prefer to do housework, pay bills, or read a book. Parents may also want to ease into using our respite services and gain confidence. Our goal is to make you feel secure enough to leave your child with a respite care worker when you are ready.

    Criteria for Receiving Respite
    When you contact Sarasota/Manatee Respite Services through our online intake form, the Family Liaison will contact you within 48 hours of submitting your intake form to review your information and provide you with details about the availability of respite services. When services are available you will be sent an enrollment packet to complete and return to us. Once you have completed and returned the enrollment packet, SMRS will work with you to schedule an in-home visit to complete the enrollment process and provide you with additional information about our program. The enrollment packet and in-home intake will then be used to assess the need for service, match your family with a respite care worker, identify any other concerns, and guide your family to additional resources if necessary.

    Currently, the program serves children from birth to age 18. These children might have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), behavioral conditions, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Sensory Integration Disorder, physical impairment, cerebral palsy, and developmental delays. Moreover, the program serves the entire family of a child with a disability, including siblings. SMRS is only available to residents of Sarasota and Manatee counties.

    Services are provided in one six-hour visit or two three-hour visits per month, unless an alternative funding source is available. A program fee for service is charged for your visit and is based on a sliding scale. A copy of your most recent income tax return will be required in order to determine your program fee. If you cannot pay the program fee, you may apply for a hardship scholarship, and a copy of your income tax return will still be required for a hardship consideration. No family is denied services due to an inability to pay.

    All families participating in the SMRS program are required to complete a quality assurance survey four times a year.

    To submit an application for respite services, please click on the Respite Services Intake Form at the bottom of this page and enter your contact information. If you have further questions about the program, please contact Family Liaison, Margaret Azouz, at (941) 704-9223 between the hours of 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., or by email at,

    About Our Respite Care Workers

    All respite care workers receive training and certification in:
    • First Aid, CPR, universal precautions and medication dispensing
    • Behavioral training from a Certified Behavioral Analyst
    • Occupational therapy and sensory integration

    All respite care workers are personally interviewed, drug screened, fingerprinted, and go through State of Florida and FBI background checks.

    To inquire about employment opportunities or to submit a job application to become a respite worker, please contact Family Liaison/Administrator, Margaret Azouz, at (941) 704-9223 between the hours of 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., or by email at, To print a job application click here.

    Our Sponsors and Supporters for the 2014-2015 Program Year

    The Sarasota/Manatee Respite Services Program is sponsored in whole or in part by the following individuals, organizations, and grant funders. Thank you to all of our supporters for assisting us to make a difference in the lives of families raising and caring for a child with a disability or special need in Manatee and Sarasota County.

    Together we are stronger!

    Bank of America Client Foundation, Frederick W. and Margaret D. Kutz Fund, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee
    CARE - Center for Autism Resources and Education
    Heron Creek Community Foundation
    Jerome and Mildred Paddock Foundation
    Lakewood Ranch Community Foundation
    Manatee Community Foundation
    Manatee County Children's Services Advisory Board
    Plantation Community Foundation
    Rotary Club of Lakewood Ranch
    Sarasota County Foundation
    Sarasota County Government
    United Way of Manatee County
    United Way of South Sarasota County

    Our Sponsors and Supporters for the 2015-2016 Program Year

    Annette J. Hagens Memorial Foundation
    Cliff and Susie Walters Fund
    Friendly Associates
    Joe and Debbie Gigliotti Family Fund
    Lakewood Ranch Community Foundation
    Louis and Lynn Merucci Fund
    Manatee Community Foundation
    Manatee County Children's Services
    Mary E. Parker Foundation
    Plantation Community Foundation
    Rotary Club of Lakewood Ranch
    Sarasota County Foundation
    Service Club of Manatee County
    The Evans Family Fund
    United Way of South Sarasota County
    Wells Fargo Fund