“Increasing access to and availability of high quality respite resources for all caregivers in Alabama”


Alabama Lifespan Respite Resource Network® (Alabama Respite) is a statewide program of United Cerebral Palsy of Huntsville and Tennessee Valley, Inc. (UCP). Our programs and services include:

  • Respite resource information and referrals for caregivers
  • Education, training and public awareness
  • State, local and federal advocacy
  • Technical assistance in starting new programs including volunteer training
  • Sharing the Care (STC) Community Initiatives
  • Voucher Respite Services
  • www.alabamarespite.org - Alabama Respite’s website offers information for caregivers and service providers wishing to learn more about our activities and programs. The website hosts an interactive database of agencies that provide respite services specific to Alabama’s counties.
  • 866-RESTALA (866-737-8252) is Alabama Respite's toll free number for easy access for caregivers and providers seeking additional information.
  • The staff is available to provide information and education through presentations to conferences, groups, organizations, churches and agencies that serve family caregivers. Staff is also available to volunteer train respite providers. Alabama Respite staff may be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  GIVE ME A BREAK! is a brochure outlining how Alabama Respite is making respite resources readily available and easily accessible for all caregivers in Alabama.

 ALABAMA RESPITE SERVICES is a quick, concise brochure outlining our services and contact information, along with interesting facts about respite and how you can help.

HEARTS Voucher Respite Program, first piloted in North Alabama by UCP in Huntsville in 1994, has successfully been replicated by all 5 UCP affiliates throughout the state. The program serves caregivers of children up to age 19 and is funded by the Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention. A list of HEARTS Coordinators can be found on our website at:http://www.alabamarespite.org/about-us/31.html

Alabama Respite began in 2000, working with a task force of around 45 volunteers from state agencies, non- and for-profit organizations that serve people with disabilities and consumers. The task force developed an initial Strategic Plan to identify the respite needs of caregivers in Alabama and the gaps and barriers they face accessing services.

Sharing the Care (STC) is a community-based initiative that creates an opportunity for key stakeholders living in a specific area of the state to collaborate and develop respite resources and address funding needs unique to their community. Piloted in 2005 in Limestone County, the project has been replicated in Madison, Cullman, Blount, Jefferson/Shelby, Tuscaloosa, Walker, Marengo, Dallas, Etowah, Houston, Lee, Montgomery/Elmore/Autauga, Mobile/Baldwin, and Colbert/Lauderdale Counties. Alabama Respite has created training materials to begin STC Projects in different communities. Our staff presented this concept at the 2011 National Respite Conference at the request of ARCH, our National Respite Coalition. For more information about an STC in your area or starting a STC, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. A training module is available on our website at: "STC TOOLKIT - Sharing the Care: An Innovative Model for Building Respite Awareness and Capacity within Communities".

Our advocacy efforts with the Alabama Legislature resulted in Alabama Respite receiving state funding beginning in 2006. The funds are administered by the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services. This money is used as match funds to secure federal funding. 

Alabama Respite hosted the 2007 National Respite Conference in Huntsville.

In 2007, the Alabama Department of Mental Health began contracting with Alabama Respite to manage voucher respite funding for caregivers of adults and children who have intellectual disabilities.

In 2009, the Alabama legislature passed resolution HJR170 to establish Alabama Respite as "the lead entity for lifespan respite coordination in the state of Alabama" and designated coordinator of the Alabama Respite Coalition. From that effort, the Alabama Lifespan Respite Resource Network Act. No. 2012-410 was passed into law. The Governor appoints our statewide coalition of stakeholders of about 30 individuals representing the legislature, state agencies, organizations, and consumers. The Coalition collaborates to address issues related to respite in a productive process and limits duplication of effort when possible. A list of current members can be found on our website at: http://www.alabamarespite.org/index.php/about-us/alabama-respite-coalition.html

Respite Awareness Month is recognized annually in November by the Governor through proclamation.

Alabama was one of the first of 12 states to receive a Federal Lifespan Respite Grant in 2009. The primary goal of this grant is for the Alabama Department of Senior Services (ADSS) to work in partnership with Coalition to provide a statewide, comprehensive, and coordinated approach to providing lifespan respite care to all Alabama family caregivers regardless of disability, illness, age, income, race, ethnicity, special needs, or situation.

Alabama Respite contracted with ADSS and partnered with the Coalition for a second Lifespan Respite grant that allowed our staff to create and post on our website the STC Toolkit and the Faith-based module training components; map current caregiver training resources in Alabama; certify staff to become volunteer respite provider trainers; build upon the existing STC entities and start up 12 new STCs; and update our website to begin building a strong training and education section.

Alabama Respite staff participates as our state's representative to the National Respite Coalition (ARCH) and on state and local committees which address services related to caregivers.

In 2017, Alabama Respite partnered with Alabama Department of Senior Services (ADSS) for a third Federal Lifespan Respite Grant. The goal of this grant is to increase actual respite services and workshops for caregivers as well as further developing public policy and awareness on caregiver issues. 

The 18th Annual National Lifespan Respite Conference was held in Huntsville, Alabama in October of 2017. This was the ten year anniversary of the first time Alabama hosted the conference and they remain the only state to host the conference twice. 

Melissa Terry, Statewide Outreach Coordinator

Melissa Terry is originally from Columbus, Ohio and has lived in Huntsville since 2009. She is a graduate of Oakwood University with a degree in Business Management. Melissa began advocating for Early Intervention support to local legislators in 2012 when her daughter was in the program. Those continued efforts led to her current position with Alabama Respite. As the Statewide Outreach Coordinator, Melissa advocates for quality respite options and caregiver supports with Alabama policymakers. 

Brittany Huey, North Alabama Training and Resource Specialist

Brittany Huey is originally from Oxford, Alabama and moved to Huntsville in 2014 to pursue her Master’s Degree in Social Work. She graduated in 2015, and obtained her license to practice. Brittany joined Alabama Respite in January 2015 as our Training and Resource Specialist. She travels the state educating caregivers, professionals and community members about respite and other caregiver topics.

Ashley Prater, Voucher Respite Coordinator

Ashley Prater is from Decatur, Alabama and completed her Bachelor’s degree in Communication from Mississippi University for Women. She has worked within the medical community in sales and management for the past ten years. She has experience in the areas of hospice, home health, respiratory, and physician recruitment. Ashley currently serves as the Respite Voucher Coordinator and special project trainer for Alabama Lifespan Respite Resource Network©.

Suzanne Price, COO/CFO 

Suzanne Price is a native Huntsvillian and has been with United Cerebral Palsy of Huntsville and Tennessee Valley for 19 years. She is the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer as well as Director of Respite Services and the inclusion program, Childcare Enhancement with a Purpose. She and her husband have one son, a freshman at Auburn University. 

In 2012, the Alabama Legislature passed the Alabama Lifespan Respite Resource Network Act (2012-410) which designates the members of the Alabama Lifespan Respite Coalition. The Governor appoints the coalition comprised of members who are culturally, economically, and geographically diverse and representative of the state demographics. The coalition’s responsibilities are to: (1) build partnerships and coordinate respite care efforts statewide (2) provide public awareness about respite to the citizens of Alabama, and, (3) identify, coordinate, and develop, community/funding resources for respite services.

Members of the Alabama Respite Coalition

Lisa Alford Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ADRS)
Marlene Wood Governor’s Office on Disability (GOOD)
Representative Bill Poole Alabama House of Representatives, House Ways & Means Committee Chair - ED
Senator Cam Ward Alabama Senate, Judiciary Committee Chair
Representative April Weaver Alabama House of Representatives, Health Committee Chair
Senator Gerald Dial Alabama Senate, Health Committee Chair
Commissioner Neal Morrison Alabama Department of Senior Services (ADSS)
Stephanie McGee Azar Alabama Department of Medicaid (ADM)
Julia Sosa Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), Office of Minority Health
Sallye Longshore Alabama Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention (ADCANP) / Children's Trust Fund of Alabama
Freida Baker Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR)
Commissioner James Purdue Alabama Department of Mental Health (ADMH)
Johnna Breland Alabama Council for Developmental Disabilities (ACDD)
Suzanne Price United Cerebral Palsy of Huntsville and Tennessee Valley, Inc. (UCP)
Dr. Jatuun Gibson Collaborative Training Partner Representative, Auburn University - Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES)
Sherry Kolodziejczak Collaborative Training Partner Representative, AARP / Crestwood Hospital
Pamela Ramos Family Caregiver, Alzheimer's Community Caregiver, Ramos Group
Kathy Jo Spears Comm Respite Initiative/Program Representative, Northwest Alabama Council of Local Governments (NACOLG)
Maria Gutierrez Comm Respite Initiative/Program Representative, AU Sharing the Care (STC) Initiative, Lee County Autism Resource & Advocacy (LCARA)
Angel Lowen Autism Society of Alabama (ASA)
Lori McGrath Alabama Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (ALHPCO)
Julie Smith Home Instead Senior Care (HISC)
Candi Williams American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)
Terry Pezent Statewide Advocacy Group Representative, The Arc of Alabama
Ruth Brewbaker Faith-Based Initiative
Lynn Easterwood Respite Care Provider, Hospice of North Alabama
Gina Germany Respite Care Provider, Touching Hearts Senior Care
Dr. Pamela Parmalee University Partner, University of Alabama Mental Health & Aging


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