Highmark Caring Place

"It is incredible to see the impact that you have on the children, and the impact they have on you, in such a short time frame. Although the group has only been meeting for a few weeks, it’s clear that we have all made a lasting bond with one another. "

Highmark Caring Place
A Center for Grieving Children, Adolescents, and Their Families
620 Stanwix Street 
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Contact Person: Andrea Lurier, PhD, Andrea.lurier@highmark.com

Areas of Interest: Counseling Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Social Work, Child Development, child and adult grief, support groups.

Who we are: A Center for Grieving Children, Adolescents and Their Families dedicated to supporting children and families after a family member dies.  We provide child focused, family based peer support programming to help children (and their adults) discover they're not alone in their grief.  The Caring Place provides an emotionally and physically safe place so that children can share their grief, their feelings and their memories, and receive support and encouragement from others their age and from trained adult volunteers.  We work with children who are infants and toddlers through age 18 and use developmentally appropriate play, art, and other activities to invite the telling and sharing of their stories.  While children are in their peer support groups, their parents and caregivers are also in volunteer facilitated support groups where they are able to express their grief and support one another as they raise grieving children.  Staff members oversee the program.

Description: A two term commitment is required.  After completing the training program in September, interns will be placed in a “session.”  A Session is a group of families and volunteers who meet on a given day of the week for 8-10 meetings. Typically, sessions meet every other week, but this may change to accommodate holidays and other scheduling needs. Interns will have the schedule of dates ahead of time so they can choose a session that fits their needs.

After completing training, interns may be placed in a variety of program roles. All roles are critical to the program in terms of creating a welcoming, safe place for the children and families.  Some interns may be placed in roles of supporting families as they enter the Caring Place and have community/dinner time.  Other interns may work in a team of 2-4 volunteers who will facilitate groups for preschoolers, young children, middle-school-age children, teens or adults.  In these teams, one of the more experienced volunteers acts as a lead facilitator but works closely with the whole team.  With the Caring Place staff, volunteers plan activities for the evening, work with the children or adults in implementing these activities and facilitate the group process.  The program runs from 5:15 pm-9:00 pm on Session nights.  (Session nights are scheduled Monday through Thursday.) Within that time, interns/volunteers meet in a pre-group and post-group to prepare for the evening and to process their own internal reactions after the families leave.  Family Greeters and food servers are with families during pre group time but are encouraged to attend post group.

Placement involves a number of considerations including staff discretion, the needs of the program, the interests of the interns as well as “goodness of fit” – between the intern’s abilities and strengths and the various roles.   Other special programs are planned throughout the year including candle lighting ceremonies of remembrance and quilt dedications. Interns are strongly encouraged to participate in these events as they are integral to the program and count towards required hours.

Duties of Intern:

  • Participate as a team member with other volunteers and staff
  • Exhibit professionalism at the Caring Place related to punctuality, reliability, appropriate dress, strong work ethics and professional interactions with children, families, volunteers, and staff.
  • Interns are expected to be at every session meeting once they are placed. 

Death, loss and grief are universal human experiences. This work can touch each of us deeply in different ways.  Based on our own current life circumstances or who we are as people, it may be difficult to be fully present and hear the stories of the children and families.  Part of the interview and training process is to provide experiential training so staff and interns/volunteers can discover together whether this is a good time to work in our program and in what role.  Staff, will however, make the final judgment.


  • Two term commitment required.
  • Email contact person listed above with a letter of interest (stating that you are a Psychology major at the University of Pittsburgh interested in the internship).  Resume is optional. 
    • Application Due Date: end of March each year for following fall term
  • Suggested courses: PSY 0310, Developmental Psychology and PSY 1230 Psychology of Death and Dying (recommended but not required)
  • PA Child Abuse History Clearance and Criminal Record Check are required but the Caring Place will provide those forms and pay for their processing
  • Complete a volunteer application provided by the Caring Place
  • Students must:
    • Attend an orientation and tour of the Caring Place in downtown Pittsburgh (time and date to be determined)
    • Attend an interview with the volunteer services coordinator and or site manager (time and date to be determined)
    • Participate fully in a 26 hour training to be held in September.  Most trainings are in the evenings (5:00-9:00pm) but there is one all-day Saturday training. A course which covers child abuse recognition and reporting is also required.  Training hours are counted towards satisfying the required number of hours for academic credit purposes.
    • Serve in one fall session and one winter/spring session. 
    • ***All sessions run until the end of June and therefore, interns MUST commit to participate through the end of June. (Do not apply if you cannot participate through June.)           

 General Information

  • Located within a short bus ride of Pitt’s Oakland campus on Stanwix Street in downtown Pittsburgh
  • We serve meals at all trainings and session meetings and will pay for parking should interns choose to drive downtown.

Terms Offered:   Students register for 2 credits for Fall Term and 1 credit for Spring Term.  

Number of Students: 2 students per year