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Center for Disability and Aging Policy (CDAP)

Office of Integrated Programs

Lifespan Respite Care Program

The Purpose of the Program and How It Works

The Lifespan Respite Care Program was authorized by Congress in 2006 under Title XXIX of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C 201). Lifespan Respite Care programs are coordinated systems of accessible, community-based respite care services for family caregivers of children and adults of all ages with special needs. Such programs reduce duplication of effort and assist in the development of respite care infrastructures at the state and local levels. Once implemented, Lifespan Respite Care programs work to improve the delivery and quality of respite services available to families across the age and disability spectrum.

Lifespan Respite Care Programs advance the following objectives:

  1. Expand and enhance respite services in the states
  2. Improve coordination and dissemination of respite services
  3. Streamline access to programs;
  4. Fill gaps in service where necessary
  5. Improve the overall quality of the respite services currently available

Since 2009, Congress has appropriated approximately $2.5 million per year to implement Lifespan Respite Programs. As of 2012, competitive grants of up to $200,000 each were awarded to eligible agencies in thirty states and the District of Columbia.

Eligible state agencies are those administering the state’s program under the Older Americans Act of 1965; the state’s program under Title XIX of the Social Security Act (Medicaid); or are designated by the Governor to administer the State’s program under this title. The eligible state agency must be an Aging and Disability Resource Center and work in collaboration with a public or private non-profit statewide respite care coalition or organization.

With these initial three-year grants, states have developed or built upon respite infrastructures through a variety of approaches designed to enhance or improve access to and receipt of respite services. Examples of grantee activities include:

  • Environmental scans to better understand available respite programs and family caregiver needs
  • Marketing and outreach campaigns to better educate family caregivers about respite and how to access services
  • Training of volunteer and paid respite providers to increase the availability of respite services
  • Partnering with communities of faith to develop respite programs
  • Developing or enhancing statewide databases of respite care programs, services and information to improve access for family caregivers
  • The development and implementation of person centered respite service options such as vouchers

In 2012, ACL/AoA funded seven of the original 2009 states with new grants to build upon and expand the efforts begun during their previous three years of work. Grantees are focusing on more fully integrating Lifespan Respite Care Programs into the state’s systems of long-term services and supports. These new grants require states to provide gap-filling respite services to family caregivers and work with ACL/AoA to develop program performance and outcome measures.

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Lifespan Respite Care Program Grantees

For more information about the implementation of the Lifespan Respite Care Program and to learn more about the key activities of each of the state grantees, please click on the state name below to read a project summary:

2009 Grantees

2010 Grantees

2011 Grantees

2012 Grantees

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Technical Assistance

Technical assistance is a key component of effective program development. Since program implementation began in 2009, ACL/AoA has funded the ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center to provide technical assistance to the Lifespan Respite Program grantees and the field.

ARCH’s current technical assistance activities focus on assisting states in the development of sustainable, integrated and high-quality respite programs across the lifespan; supporting the development of a framework to measure program performance and outcomes; and collecting, synthesizing, disseminating and stimulating research in the field of respite and family caregiver support. For more information about Technical Assistance activities, please visit the ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center.

Lifespan Respite Care Program—Reauthorization

The Lifespan Respite Care Act is due to be reauthorized. From January 6 through March 31, 2011, AoA solicited input regarding the reauthorization from interested individuals and organizations. Find a summary of the input that was received (PDF).

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Resources and Useful Links

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Last Modified: 9/19/2013