Respite is a service that provides a temporary break between the family caregiver and the care recipient. Family caregivers need to have sufficient and regular amounts of respite time. Unfortunately, they often do not because it is frequently too expensive or unavailable or they do not know how to access it.
Over 65 million family caregivers provide at least 80% of long-term care and support to family members with disabilities or chronic conditions of all ages. According to AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving, 88% of these family caregivers, do not receive any respite services. Even through the Veterans Administration, 85% of family caregivers of veterans lack access to respite services.
State and Federal Lifespan Respite Programs
Some states offer Lifespan Respite Programs. These programs provide a coordinated system of accessible, community-based respite care services for all ages including family caregivers of children and adults with special needs.
In 2006 Congress passed the Lifespan Respite Care Act which authorized competitive grants to Aging and Disability Resource Centers in collaboration with public or private non-profit state respite coalition organizations to make quality respite available and accessible to family caregivers regardless of age or disability.
Federal Funding for Respite
Although Congress authorized the program for $30 million in 2007 (increasing to 94.8 million in 2011), Congress only provided $2.5 million in funding (or appropriations) for the program in 2009 and in 2010. As a result less than half of the states received Lifespan Respite grants from the US Administration on Aging in 2009.
The average state grant award is $200,000 over a three-year period (approximately $65,000/year), a sorely inadequate amount to meet the needs of the 88% of caregivers who are currently without services. Congress must provide more resources to ensure family caregivers get the break they need to provide the best care for their younger and older family members with disabilities.
Respite Services to Support Grandfamilies fact sheet (PDF) by ARCH National Respite Network and Generations United
The National Respite Coalition
ARCH National Respite Network
Administration on Aging Lifespan Respite Care Program