Lifespan Respite Overview

To define Lifespan Respite Care, we must first understand what respite is. Respite is planned or emergency care provided to a child or adult with special needs in order to provide temporary relief to family caregivers who are caring for that child or adult. 

Caregivers not only get a much-needed break from the demands of caregiving, but respite care also has been shown to have a positive impact on many individual and family outcomes, including reduced stress, decreased fatigue, increased family quality of life, reduced social isolation, and improved relationships. 

Respite care can be provided across the lifespan to individuals with a variety of special needs. Respite care is funded by multiple sources and can take place in a variety of settings, including in facilities, in community settings, and in the home of individuals with special needs. 

For more information about what respite care is, take a look at our respite care informational video.

Lifespan Respite Care includes care for people all ages—from birth to seniors. By coordinating respite care programs across age groups and disabilities throughout Wisconsin, we are able to help more people find the best respite care services possible. 

Respite Care Association of Wisconsin (RCAW) is a non-profit group contracted by the State of Wisconsin to coordinate respite care services across local and state levels. We do this through our Respite Care Registry where people can become certified and register as a respite care provider or worker. In addition, family members or primary caregivers can search for respite care workers to care for their loved ones so they, themselves, are able to have a break for their own self-care.

RCAW provides training and certification for people interested in a purposeful career as a respite care provider. We also provide education for family or primary caregivers who want more support in becoming a better caregiver of their family or friends. Find out more about lifespan respite care programs: 


Lifespan Respite Care programs are coordinated systems of accessible, community-based respite care services for primary caregivers of children, adults, and the elderly. Such programs reduce duplication of effort and assist in the development of respite care infrastructures at the state and local levels. Once implemented, Lifespan Respite Care programs improve the delivery and quality of respite services available to families across age and disability spectrums by establishing coordinated lifespan respite systems.

Lifespan Respite Care Programs advance the following objectives:

  1. Expand and enhance respite services in the states;
  2. Improve coordination and dissemination of respite services;
  3. Streamline access to programs;
  4. Fill gaps in service where necessary; and
  5. Improve the overall quality of the respite services currently available.

In 1999, Wisconsin adopted Lifespan Respite Care legislation and contracts with RCAW to administer the program.

Statistics from July 01, 2020 – Present Day

Number of respite care providers listed on the registry
Number of respite hours funded through our CRGP
amount of $$ allocated via grant programs
Number of learners who’ve completed Respite Care Certificate Program