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 to provide temporary relief to family caregivers caring for that child or adult.

Caregivers get a much-needed break from the demands of caregiving. Still, respite care has also been shown to positively impact many individual and family outcomes, including reduced stress, decreased fatigue, increased family quality of life, lowered social isolation, and improved relationships.

Respite is provided across the lifespan to individuals with various special needs. Multiple sources fund respite care, which can occur in numerous settings, including facilities, community settings, and the homes of individuals with special needs.

Please look at our respite care informational video for more information about respite care.

Lifespan Respite Care includes care for people of all ages—from birth to seniors. By coordinating respite care programs across age groups and disabilities throughout Wisconsin, we can 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. People can complete the Respite Care Provider Training (RCPT) and register as respite care professionals. In addition, family members or primary caregivers can search for respite care workers to care for their loved ones. Hence, they, themselves, can have a break for their self-care.

RCAW provides training for people interested in a purposeful career as a respite care provider. We also offer education for family or primary caregivers who want more support in becoming better caregivers for 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 older adults. Such programs reduce duplication of effort and assist in developing 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.

RCAW Respite Grant Program

Below are the dollars awarded to family caregivers, agencies, and new and existing programs to increase respite care statewide. To learn more about our grants, here.

Updated June 01, 2024 

Dollars Awarded to New & Existing Respite Provider Agencies
Dollars Awarded for the Group Respite Grant Program
Dollars Awarded for the Caregiver Respite Grant Program
Dollars Awarded for the Supplemental Respite Grant Program