Special Parents

Caring for Special Needs Families One Event at a Time

aka Special Parents Organization   |   CHESTER, NJ   |

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GuideStar Charity Check

Special Parents

EIN: 83-1915463

This organization has not appeared on the IRS Business Master File in a number of months. It may have merged with another organization or ceased operations.
This organization's exempt status was automatically revoked by the IRS for failure to file a Form 990, 990-EZ, 990-N, or 990-PF for 3 consecutive years. Further investigation and due diligence are warranted.


Special Parents is a community service organization that partners with local businesses, schools and non-profit organizations to provide respite, including a complimentary lunch/dinner out, for the parents of special needs children while volunteers provide 1 on 1 care for their children in an inclusive, special-needs adapted, carnival-like atmosphere.

Notes from the nonprofit

Since 2010 Special-Parents has hosted over 2,000 families with special needs children supported by over 6,000 volunteers from the NY/NJ and surrounding areas. Parents of special needs children enjoy a complimentary afternoon (lunch) or night (dinner) out while their children with disabilities and siblings are watched, cared for and entertained for 3 to 4 hours by one-on-one volunteers in a special-needs adapted carnival-like atmosphere. A typical event hosts over one hundred families and 250 children, supported by 200+ volunteers and costs approximately $20,000. Due to the incredible demand, events typically sell-out within 5-7 days, forcing 100s of families to be turned away every year. In order to support demand and further expansion, with the vision of expanding nationally, Special Parents Organization plans to establish an endowment funded by individual, foundation and corporate donations to allow Special Parents to host a minimum of twelve (12) events per year in perpetuity!

Ruling year info


Co-Founder/Executive Director

Steven Edward Coutts

Main address



Show more contact info



Subject area info

Special needs education



Public affairs

Human services

Population served info

Children and youth



People with disabilities

NTEE code info

Human Services - Multipurpose and Other N.E.C. (P99)

Other Philanthropy, Voluntarism, and Grantmaking Foundations N.E.C. (T99)

Nonmonetary Support N.E.C. (W19)

IRS subsection

501(c)(3) Public Charity

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990-N.

Tax forms

Show Forms 990


What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Special Parents Organization's primary mission is to provide much needed respite for the parents and caregivers of special needs children within our local communities while volunteers care for and entertain their children in an inclusive, special needs adapted, carnival-like atmosphere. All too often it becomes difficult or next to impossible for parents of children with disabilities to take needed breaks to recharge their batteries and/or invest quality time into their marriage and relationships due to a lack of qualified childcare and/or the disposable income to treat themselves to an afternoon or night out. Since 2010 over 6,000+ volunteers have helped provide respite and entertainment to over 2,000 families with special needs children, financed by over $500,000 in individual and corporate donations.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Special Parents Night Out Respite Event and Carnival

Special needs children (and their siblings) are cared for and entertained for 3-4 hours in a special-needs adapted, carnival-like atmosphere by loving and qualified volunteers while their parents or caregivers enjoy a complimentary night out including dinner for two (2) at the restaurant of their choice.

Population(s) Served
People with disabilities

Special needs children (and their siblings) are cared for and entertained for 3-4 hours in a special-needs adapted, carnival-like atmosphere by loving and qualified volunteers while their parents or caregivers enjoy a complimentary afternoon out including lunch for two (2) at the restaurant of their choice

Population(s) Served
People with disabilities

Where we work


Lifetime Achievement Award 2015

NJ Council of Administrators of Special Education

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of volunteers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success


Context Notes

Represents total volunteers for all events for the given year.

Number of returning volunteers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success


Context Notes

Included volunteers for all events for given year

Number of families served

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Context Notes

Figures represent total number of guest families for all events held in a given year

Number of first time families served

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Special Parents Organization's goal is to fund, host and facilitate over a dozen Special Parents respite events per year by partnering with local volunteers, businesses, schools, and non-profit organizations.

During our events, parents and/or caregivers are treated to an afternoon or evening out including a complimentary meal at the restaurant of their choice while volunteers provide 1-on-1 care for their special needs children and siblings at a centrally located facility within their community. While the parents enjoy 3-4 quiet hours to themselves, their children enjoy dozens of activities including movies, pony rides, hayrides, inflatables, arts & crafts and more.

A typical Special Parents event accommodates between 100 and 200 families, including 200 or more guest children, all supported by a team of over 200 volunteers. Due to the overwhelming demand, these events often sell out within just 5-7 days, regrettably resulting in the disappointment of hundreds of families who are unable to attend each year.

Since 2010 Special Parents events have been funded by local one-off donations from members of the
community, underwritten by its co-founders. While the demand calls for many more events across many more communities, budgetary constraints have limited us to 1-2 events per year.

To help meet the overwhelming need for respite and to better serve the special needs families within our local communities, Special Parents Organization is seeking broader individual and corporate financial participation to fund expansion and to create an endowment enabling Special Parents to host numerous events annually, ensuring that the respite support continues indefinitely.

Our organization's strategies for planning, hosting, and safely executing on our Special Parents respite events involves careful consideration of five primary requirements:

1) Hosting Facility: We seek facilities that can accommodate 200 - 400+ people on-site, offer both indoor and outdoor spaces suitable for various activities, are available on weekends at minimal or no cost, are handicap accessible, and provide ample parking. While local high schools are often considered due to their size and accessibility, houses of worship and community centers can also serve as suitable locations. We proactively engage with facility owners and non-profit organizations to secure venues.

2) Source of Volunteers: We rely on a diverse pool of volunteers, including:
a) Supervising Volunteers with experience working with individuals with disabilities, often from local hospitals and special needs schools.
b) Teenagers and young adults from middle schools, high schools, and colleges often with a focus on meeting community service requirements for high school students.
c) Congregants from religious organizations interested in serving the special needs community.
d) Employees from local businesses encouraged to volunteer through corporate programs.

3) Budget & Source of Funds: Hosting an event for 100 families and 200 children typically costs around $20,000. Expenses include restaurant gift cards, food, volunteer t-shirts, activities, security, marketing, facility, and administrative costs. Historically, we've relied on local donations and co-founder support. To expand nationally, we plan to establish a $2 million endowment fund funded by foundation and corporate sponsors committing to a one-time donation and annual support. Short-term event funding comes from individual donations through various online platforms.

4) Guest Population: There is high demand for our events, which quickly sell out once word spreads. Our marketing strategy involves electronic event flyers sent to special needs schools, group homes, and houses of worship. Social media and our online presence also play a crucial role. Word of mouth within the special needs community is a significant driver of guest participation, with returning guests making up about 70% of our participants.

5) Day of Event Logistics: Efficiently matching hundreds of 1-on-1 volunteers with guest children within the first 30 to 45 minutes is a critical consideration. We ensure appropriate matching based on volunteer experience and the complexity of a child's disability, exchange contact information, and provide details about the child's needs. We prearrange restaurant reservations, so quick onsite registration and volunteer assignments are essential. Coordination of vendors, gift cards, activity supplies, volunteer stations, and setup and cleanup are other logistics that require careful planning before the event.

With over a decade of experience and track record for successfully planning and facilitating more than 20 respite events, serving over 2,000 families and supported by over 6,000 volunteers, Special Parents has honed its capabilities to effectively fulfill its mission.

Our extensive experience, averaging 600-800 participants per event (including 50-200 sets of parents, 100-200 guest children, and 100-250 volunteers), has allowed us to develop and continually refine our operational playbook. This playbook ensures the safe and seamless execution of our vision, providing respite to parents and quality care to their special needs children.

Special Parents has invested in sophisticated online registration and data management systems that efficiently capture and utilize critical guest and volunteer information, streamlining day-of-event logistics. Our commitment to operational excellence is evidenced by the high number of repeat guest families and unsolicited testimonials from parents who have experienced the quality and care that goes into each event.

In our fundraising and expansion efforts, we excel at conveying our vision and the positive impact of our events to potential donors, sponsors, and volunteers. We have amassed a substantial library of professionally taken photographs and video clips from past events, creating dozens of 3-to-5-minute event highlight videos accessible through our website, social media and YouTube channels. These engaging visuals combined with our parent testimonials resonate deeply, compelling viewers to become part of our mission. Additionally, our captivating photos, videos, and testimonials serve as powerful content to attract followers to our social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, expanding our reach and impact.

In 2010, Special Parents Organization was born out of the personal need and appreciation for respite care experienced by its founders, Steve & Denise Coutts. After grappling with the daily challenges, stress, and exhaustion of raising their child with multiple disabilities, they took the initiative to host and personally finance the inaugural Special Parents Night Out at The Church of the Hills in Bedminster, NJ. During this first event, approximately 20 sets of parents entrusted the care of their special needs children to 40 inexperienced church volunteers. The guest couples were able to relish their first private (complimentary) dinner date night out in years. However, the process of matching guest families and children with volunteers proved chaotic, taking over an hour to complete. Evening activities were relatively modest, including a movie, balloon making, face painting, and some arts and crafts for the children.

Fast forward to Special Parents Night Out in Spring 2019, our 20th event. Over 200 guest families and 300 guest children were served by over 300+ community volunteers. Remarkably, over half of these volunteers had prior experience with the organization, and two-thirds of the guest families had attended previous events. Such was the demand that online guest registration had to be closed within just five days. Parents were given the option to choose from over 15 participating restaurants, and special needs children of all ages and abilities enjoyed a diverse array of over 20 activities, including Hot Air Balloon Rides, Hayrides, Laser Tag, Pony Rides, Inflatables, Video Game Truck, Fire Truck, Movies, Arts & Crafts, and more. Crucially, onsite guest registration and volunteer matching, streamlined by a carefully refined online pre-registration process for both guests and volunteers, were efficiently completed within just 30 minutes of doors opening. The entire $20,000 cost of the event was covered by over 100 individuals and small businesses, who leveraged various fundraising avenues, including company matching programs, social media giving channels, a GoFundMe event page, and community fundraisers. The evening received dozens of unsolicited parent testimonials and thank-you notes, all attesting to how much of a blessing it was for their entire family. Furthermore, hundreds of first-time one-on-one volunteers, many of whom had never cared for a child with disabilities, left with a newfound appreciation for the daily challenges faced by parents of special needs children. They pledged to return to volunteer for future events.

Looking ahead, Special Parents plans to extend our model for serving special needs families to new communities across the country. Over the coming year, we plan to partner with foundations and corporate sponsors to establish a $2 million endowment. This endowment will empower Special Parents to host a minimum of 12 special needs respite events annually, ensuring long-term sustainability.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback


Special Parents

Financial data

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Special Parents

Revenue & expenses

Fiscal Year: 2023

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Contributions, Grants, Gifts $15,900
Program Services $0
Membership Dues $0
Special Events $0
Other Revenue $0
Total Revenue $15,900
Program Services $13,400
Administration $1,850
Fundraising $500
Payments to Affiliates $0
Other Expenses $0
Total Expenses $15,750

Special Parents

Balance sheet

Fiscal Year: 2023

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Total Assets $2,150
Total Liabilities $0
Fund balance (EOY)
Net Assets $2,150


The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Form 1023/1024 is not available for this organization

Co-Founder/Executive Director

Steven Edward Coutts

Steve Coutts is a 30-year veteran in operations, sales, sales management, research and investment management within the real estate, finance, information, tech and nonprofit industries. As Chief Revenue Officer and Advisor for Usearch, Steve is responsible for go-to-market strategy, strategic partnerships, and product direction. Prior to joining Usearch, Steve was Chief Commercial Officer for Cherre, managing sales, partnerships, and customer success for the fast-growing real estate technology start-up. Earlier in his career, Steve worked in senior level management for industry leaders including Moodys, Reis, DMGI and CoStar as well as served as National Research Director for Savills U.S for 10 years. Steve is also Founder and Director of Special Parents Organization, a non-profit community service organization that has been providing respite for parents of special needs children since 2010. Steve earned degrees in business management and economics from Cornell University and Darden

There are no officers, directors or key employees recorded for this organization

There are no highest paid employees recorded for this organization.

Special Parents

Board of directors
as of 03/21/2024
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board of directors data
Download the most recent year of board of directors data for this organization
Board chair

Steven Coutts

Special Parents Organization

Term: 2018 - 2025

Steven Coutts

Special Parents Organization

Denise Coutts

Summit Medical Group

James Parauda

Tri County Care Management Organization

Frances Masone

Resurgent Church

Cheryl McNamara

Resurgent Church

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Not applicable
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? No
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 1/25/2024

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation


We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Equity strategies

Last updated: 11/29/2023

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.