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Respite Care

Information & Resources


This information sheet provides families information about what respite care is, important questions to ask potential respite care providers, and how to go about finding respite care.

Respite care is temporary relief care designed for families of children or adults with special needs. Respite can be based out of the family’s home or out in the community. Respite services can vary from a few short hours to a week. It may involve overnight care for an extended period of time. Respite care can be something a family uses regularly, or just as needed.

Respite care is designed to help families. Caretakers of children or adults with special needs often face their own health concerns and stress as a result of balancing the needs of their loved one with the needs of other family members. The breaks that respite care provides allows families time to focus their attention on the needs of others or themselves. Respite can also help prevent abuse and neglect, while supporting family unity. Respite care allows families to take vacations or a few hours of time off.

Questions to ask when looking for Respite Care

  • How are providers screened?
  • What is the training and level of experience in autism of the care providers?
  • How and by whom is the care provider supervised?
  • Are there organized activities?
  • How are meals handled?
  • Does the program maintain current information about each client’s medical and other needs? Is there a written care plan?
  • Who will administer medications?
  • What procedures are in place for emergencies and are the support staff trained in First Aid/CPR?
  • Would services be provided better in the home, an outside setting or combination?
  • Would there be additional insurance requirements if services are provided in the home?
  • How far ahead of time do caregivers need to call to arrange for services?
  • Is the service limited to a certain amount of hours?
  • Can specific care providers be requested each time? Is it possible to have a family member or friend who knows the individual be paid to provide the respite service?
  • Will the respite care provider care for other children too?
  • Does the program provide transportation
  • What is the cost of the service? How is payment arranged?
  • Are there funding sources available to pay for the service other than private pay?

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This information was developed by the Autism Services, Education, Resources, and Training Collaborative (ASERT). For more information, please contact ASERT at 877-231-4244 or info@PAautism.org. ASERT is funded by the Bureau of Supports for Autism and Special Populations, PA Department of Human Services.