Page Reviewed / Updated – November 16, 2010

What is Respite Care

Respite care is care provided for an individual with the specific objective of providing temporary relief for their primary caregiver. Typically, this comes in the form of caregiving assistance for several hours at a time, several times per week. Respite care can take place in the care recipient’s home, in adult day care centers, or overnight in assisted living or nursing home residences. In addition, respite care can be planned or provided on an emergency basis.

What is Lifespan Respite Care

Lifespan Respite Care is not one specific program, but rather it is a federal act authorized by Congress that provides grants to the individual states. It is funded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living. Through 2018, there have been nine rounds of grants to establish Lifespan Respite Care Programs in 37 states, as well as the District of Columbia. The exact services and procedures are specific to the individual state, though all programs share certain components. The grants are intended to improve access to respite care, and to that end, each state strives to raise awareness that respite care services exist through public messaging and by offering a database of local respite care service providers. This allows individuals to search for providers and sort the results to meet their eligibility criteria.

Who Qualifies for Lifespan Respite Care?

The Lifespan Respite Care Act specifies that the respite care services are to be provided to persons of any age with special needs. Congress defines “special needs” as individuals requiring care or supervision to meet their basis needs, prevent self-injury or injury to others and to avoid placement in an institutional facility.

Which States have Programs?

Congress has made nine rounds of grants, which includes the District of Columbia and the following 37 states. Some of these grants were made as recently as 2017, and therefore those states’ Lifespan Respite Programs might be in the early stages of development and no website may be available. Click on the state names to go to an external webpage with more information on that state’s Lifespan program.

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How to Apply

Congress selects a lead agency in each state to which they provide a grant. The lead agency is different in every state and therefore the process by which one applies for Lifespan Respite Care is different in each state. To learn more about how to apply, click on the State link above.