Through the new University of Central Arkansas Bears for Care Program, the UCA elementary, special education and literacy (ELSE), occupational therapy (OT) and service-learning programs have collaborated for the benefit of caring for kids with special healthcare needs.

The Bears for CARE Program, which is part of the WE-CARE (Working towards Essential Central Arkansas Respite kid CarE) Network, is dedicated to providing central Arkansas families who care for children with special healthcare needs access to free respite care services.

The respite care events allow children with special healthcare needs and their siblings to participate in a fun, safe environment full of games and activities while their caregivers experience leisure time for themselves and UCA’s ELSE and OT students provide the curriculum and activities for the respite care events.

"The partners on the Bears for CARE Program saw a need for respite care in our community and an opportunity to engage students with families and develop their professional skills," Lesley Graybeal, director of UCA’s Service-Learning program, said. "So far we’ve been able to offer three respite care events and have several planned for the year. It’s been a great collaboration and we’re looking forward to its long-term success."

To learn more about the WE-CARE Network of partners and respite care events, visit

For more information, contact Graybeal at