Grandparents and Other Relatives Raising Children: Respite Care
“If I could just have an hour to myself every so often.” “My energy level is not the same as when I parented the first time.” “Other people don’t realize how hard it is… or how gratifying it is.” These are comments that grandparent and relative caregivers have made when asked about needing a break, or respite, from their daily caregiving responsibilities.
This fact sheet is about “grandfamilies” or families in which grandparents or other relatives are primarily responsible for caring for children who live with them. Reasons causing these grandfamilies to come together include parental substance abuse, military deployment, incarceration, poverty, HIV/AIDS, and death. Like most families, these caregivers occasionally need a break from their 24-hour, 365 days a year role.
Almost six million children across the country are living in households headed by grandparents or other relatives, according to the 2000 U.S. Census.1 4.4 million of these children are in grandparent-headed households, and another 1.5 million live in households headed by other relatives, such as aunts or uncles.2 About 2.4 million grandparents are responsible for most of the basic needs of the children, but unfortunately similar Census data does not exist for the other relatives. 3
The National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP)4 was created in 2000 as part of the Older Americans Act (OAA). Administered by the Administration on Aging (AoA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the NFCSP allows for all states, working in partnership with Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) and local community-service providers, to offer five categories of support services for grandparents and other relatives who are relative caregivers of children, and family caregivers. The Older American Act (OAA) was reauthorized in Congress in 2006, changing the age of eligibility from 60 to 55. This allows more than 400,000 families to be newly eligible.
One of the programs created under the NFCSP is respite care. Respite care allows temporary relief for those caregivers from their responsibilities. Area Agencies on Aging receive funding to provide or contract with a local agency respite services to caregivers.
Reprinted with the permission of Generations United. © 2008 Generations United.
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