Respite Care:

An Overview of Federal, Selected State, and Private Programs

HRD-90-125: Published: Sep 6, 1990. Publicly Released: Oct 9, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the availability and use of respite care services, focusing on: (1) the characteristics, nature, and availability of respite care services in 25 states; (2) respite care users' views about the services provided; and (3) improving respite care services and enhancing the federal role.

GAO found that: (1) respite care provides temporary child care relief to family members and other caretakers of disabled children in order to prevent child abuse and neglect and support family unity; (2) respite care services are funded through state and local agencies, national organizations, and federal departments, and funding patterns and operations differ among states; (3) 25 state agencies funded 111 respite care programs which provided respite care services locally; (4) parents participating in respite care services found that the services helped reduce the stress associated with caring for their disabled children and permitted them to perform other routine daily family activities; (5) the demand for respite care services exceeded the available supply; and (6) increasing the information and publicity about available services, training more providers, and maintaining flexibility could enhance respite care programs.

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