Child Respite Care Guidelines

In-home care is necessary for those who care for the elderly, those who are physically, emotionally or mentally impaired and for those who are injured. These individuals are cared for by family members and others such as neighbors or friends and are primary caregivers. The primary caregivers have a huge responsibility when meeting the needs of those in their care and benefit from receiving temporary relief.

Respite workers and facilities should have guidelines when giving respite care to protect themselves and those they serve.


The birth of respite programs occurred in the 1960s because it was believed that children with disabilities were better off living at home than in institutions. Respite was an important tool in the success of this movement and became a focal point for support services for the families caring for disabled children.

In the 1970s another type of respite care program became necessary as a rise in abuse and neglect of young children became apparent. These at risk children needed temporary childcare and support services for these children were realized.

In 1936, the United States congress pass the Temporary child Care for Children with Disabilities and Crisis Nurseries Act which established federal funding for respite and crisis nursery programs.

Licensing and Guidelines Established

Guidelines were established to assure that they federally funded respite and crisis nurseries were of quality and that they were meeting the needs of the families. Licensing and certification rules went into effect. Those settings who offered respite such as that rendered in the child’s home, a provider’s home, a child care center, family day center, group home, or a foster home, summer camp, hospitals, shelters, residential facilities or other community recreation programs all had to apply the general principles set down by these guidelines when giving respite care.

The basic philosophy behind the guidelines is that “families can benefit from temporary relief from care giving without fear of endangering their child or the relationship with their child, and that all children should receive quality care from competent, caring providers.”

The basics of the guidelines is that there should be family involvement in service design and implementation of the respite care, that each child receiving respite care should be treated as an individual, and acknowledged as such, that caregivers in need of respite should be encouraged to participate in the respite programs, that there should be community involvement in the respite services offered in the community including being respectful of the communities uniqueness, resources and needs.

The guidelines also stressed that the respite services be family friendly and easily accessible to those who need the service. An advisory board should be established and an evaluation program in order to monitor the success of the program and to see that all respite program objectives is being met.