How it Works

photo of a student and child jumping on a trampoline

Claude Moore Precious Time (Precious Time) matches JMU Nursing and Health and Human Service students with families who have children with special health care needs question mark iconChildren with special health care needs (CSHCN) are children who “have or are at increased risk for a chronic physical, developmental, behavioral, or emotional condition and who also require health and related services of a type or amount beyond that required by children generally” (McPherson et al., 1998). /disabilities. The students provide the families a total of 7-20 hours of respite care over the course of the semester. Visits can occur either in family homes or outside the home. Families do not pay money to participate in the program; however, we ask that families educate the students by sharing their experience raising a child with disabilities.

The goal is for both the families and the students to benefit:


Two students are matched with the family at the beginning of the semester, and during the semester, the pair of students provide 7-20 hours of respite care—the number of hours depends on the type of student participating.

  • Fall Semester = September—December
  • Spring Semester = January—April


Families and students work together to schedule the day, time, and location of visits, as well as how long each visit will last. Some families prefer to schedule visits lasting 2 hours, while others may prefer to schedule visits lasting 4 to 5 hours.

Important Items

  1. Students are not allowed to give children medications. (In the event of a life-threatening allergic reaction, students are permitted to use an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen) provided by the family).
  2. Students cannot transport family members: If the family would like to have a visit outside the home, the family must transport the children and meet the students.
  3. Students cannot connect with families on social media
  4. Special instructions: Some activities related to the child’s care, such as administering feedings to children with special feeding needs, require the caregivers to demonstrate the procedures and fill out a special instruction page, which the students will review with their professor before performing.

Our Funder/Sponsors

Precious Time receives generous funding from the Claude Moore Charitable Foundation, which makes our program possible. Their mission is to provide financial and consultative resources to non-profit organizations that work to improve the lives of individuals living in under-resourced conditions in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Annually, they select organizations that focus on areas that support their mission and vision, and invite them to apply for funding. They have donated more than $90 million to non-profits across Virginia, and have invested more than $13.5 million since 2007 in the Claude Moore Scholars Program, which covers 48 school systems in 12 regions across Virginia.

Precious Time is also sponsored by the Explore More Discovery Museum here in Harrisonburg. They graciously let our families and students use their resources for free any time of the week. At the museum, there are endless exhibits for children and families to enjoy and grow their senses of curiosity, creativity, and community.