Respite Care

Retention Respite offers licensed foster parents or Tribal foster parents regular monthly breaks from caregiving, or when the caregiver has an emergent need to be away from the home. Retention respite has a 30 day waiting period once an eligible child is placed in your home. For each month you have a child in care for 20 days or more, you earn two days retention respite per month and can accumulate or “bank” up to 14 days that can be used at one time. Remember that respite over 14 days is considered a placement change. Once the hours drop below 14 days, you can begin accumulating hours the next month. 

Retention respite is:

  • Used only in daily units; you cannot use just a partial day.
  • Available for each foster child who has been in placed with you 30 days or more. Licensed foster parents can opt to use retention respite for only one child in the home, even when more than one child is placed in the home. The time used will be subtracted from your accrued retention respite days.
  • Tracked and monitored by your region. Tribal and private agencies must monitor retention respite eligibility and utilization for their licensed homes and coordinate with DCYF's regional management to report access and utilization.

Once respite is complete, email the child’s caseworker or the placement coordinator that arranged the respite. Provide the exact dates and times of the respite and the respite provider’s name, or send a copy of the respite provider’s billing that includes this information. Always keep a copy for your records. Your respite provider’s payment should be processed within four weeks, but may take up to six weeks. This depends on when the bill is submitted and if it is processed in the main payment cycle, or with the supplemental payments later in the month. Helping your respite provider complete a bill or invoice and providing any requested documentation assists DCYF staff in processing your payment request more quickly.

DCYF encourages foster parents and relative caregivers to plan respite well in advance, whenever possible. If you are planning to allow someone else to care for your foster child under the Prudent Parent Law, you do not need to provide notice to the child’s caseworker if your time away is less than 72 hours. A courtesy notification to the caseworker of your plan is always appreciated. 

Here are some helpful tips to help you request respite and obtain a quicker reimbursement:

  • At least two (2) weeks before you need respite, contact the placement coordinator and the child’s caseworker by email, phone or in person to make the request (email is most effective).
  • If you have a pre-approved provider, you still must submit a request for respite, unless you are arranging care under 72 hours through the Prudent Parent Law.
  • Written information should include:
    • Your name and contact information.
    • Beginning and ending dates and times respite is needed.
    • Respite provider’s name and contact information.
    • Location respite will be provided.
    • Basic information on the child’s needs, and
    • Information on who should receive the billing.
  • Last minute reminders are helpful:
    • Confirm with the respite provider details of the respite plan, including when and where the child will be picked-up.
    • If a transporter is being used, obtain and include his or her phone number.
    • Send an e-mail to the placement coordinator/child’s caseworker.
    • Notify the child’s school/daycare, if needed, with details of the respite plan and provider’s name and contact info.

First, consider the child in your care – where will respite work best for the child? In your home, or in a licensed foster parent’s home?

  • As you become licensed, ask family or friends to become approved as your respite provider and help them complete the required paperwork.
  • The Prudent Parenting Law allows you to use family or friends you know and trust to provide care for your foster child for up to 72 hours; this can take place in your home or theirs. You will be responsible for any payment for this type of short term care.
  • You may request respite care through the child’s assigned caseworker and the Placement Coordinator in your local DCFS office (if your area has a centralized placement service, please check with them first). Provide your request in writing and include the date and time you the respite to begin and the date/time you will return to pick up your child. It is important for the child’s safety and well-being that the respite provider have information necessary to meet the child’s needs. It is also important to share information about any the child’s upcoming appointments or visits. The respite provider should have emergency contact information and information about any medications or special dietary needs.
  • Foster parent support groups are an excellent way to meet other foster parents who are from your area. Often group members will provide respite for other foster parents who are part of their group.
  • Become a member of one of the Foster Parent Support Facebook groups hosted by our Recruitment and Retention contractors. Foster parents often post their need for respite care and find other foster parents who are willing to do respite.

No. Although you are using respite care, the child is still placed in your home and will return once respite is over. However, if a child is in respite for 14 days or longer, per DCYF, this is considered a change in placement and requires prior approval from the child’s caseworker. Make sure to talk with the child’s caseworker when your respite request is 14 days or longer. The request should be made in advance because staffing and approval by a supervisor or an area administrator (AA) is required.

Under the Prudent Parent Law, foster parents now may also arrange for the foster child to spend the night away from the foster home for up to 72 hours with someone known to the foster parent. Foster parents must ensure the needs of the child will be met and any safety and supervision plans are followed. The Prudent Parenting law does not require payment for short term care of up to 72 hours. However, if a foster parent makes arrangements for the child and agrees to pay the alternate caregiver for short term care, the expenses are paid by the foster parent.

DCYF policy identifies three types of respite care:

  • Retention Respite – respite days earned on a monthly basis when caring for a dependent child. Paid by DCYF
  • Child Specific Respite – tied to the medical, behavioral or special needs of an individual child. Paid by DCYF
  • Exchange Respite – planned and negotiated between licensed caregivers and does not include payment of DCYF funds.