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Summer 2002 Table of Contents
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Lifespan Respite Care Bill to be Introduced

By The National Respite Coalition

Parents and interested organizations may be interested in learning about a federal bill that was recently introduced, the Lifespan Respite Care Act of 2002 (S.2489). The bill was introduced in the Senate on May 9, 2002, by Senators Clinton (D-NY), Snowe (R-ME), Mikulski (D-MD) and Breaux (D-LA). Senators Inouye (D-HI) and Smith (R-OR) have joined as cosponsors. A companion bill is expected to be introduced shortly in the House.

The bill would authorize funds for development of Lifespan respite programs at the state and local levels; evaluation of such programs; planned or emergency respite care services; training and recruitment of respite care workers and volunteers; and caregiver training to help make informed decisions about respite care services.

What is a Lifespan Respite Program?

Lifespan respite programs are defined in the bill as “coordinated systems of accessible, community-based respite care services for all caregivers of individuals regardless of the individual’s age, race, ethnicity or special need.”

Who Can Access Lifespan Respite Programs?

Caregivers who are family members (including grandparents caring for grandchildren), foster parents, or other adults providing ongoing unpaid care for an individual with a special need may access these programs. Special need is defined broadly as: Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders; developmental disabilities; mental retardation; physical disabilities; chronic illness; behavioral, mental and emotional conditions; situations in which there exists a high risk of abuse or neglect, or of being placed in the foster care system, or in which a child’s parent is unavailable due to parent’s death, incapacitation, or incarceration; or any other conditions established by regulation.

Lead Agency Eligibility

 Funds would be provided on a competitive grant basis to state agencies, other public or private nonprofit entities capable of operating on a statewide basis, a political subdivision of a state that has a population greater than 3 million, or any already recognized State respite coordinating body. Priority would be given to applicants that show the greatest likelihood of implementing or enhancing Lifespan respite care statewide.

Federal Administration

Coordination is required at the federal level between the administering agency, the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration, and these federal agencies: National Family Caregiver Support Program of the Administration on Aging, the Administration for Children, Youth and Families, the Administration on Developmental Disabilities, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.


Authorization levels: $90.5 million in FY03 rising to $200 million in FY07.

If you would like get additional information or express your opinion about this issue, contact Jill Kagan, National Respite Coalition, at jbkagan@aol.com

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Last Revision: August 27, 2003