Start-Up Respite Funds


Respite Care Association of Wisconsin (RCAW) is looking to fund new respite programs or businesses in Wisconsin. 

One of the most significant barriers to starting a new respite program is the start-up business costs, such as facility costs, insurance, payroll, accounting, licensing, equipment, supplies, and staff education.

RCAW will be offering these funds to every county in Wisconsin through July 2027 because of a grant from the Administration for Community Living (ACL) through the Federal Lifespan Respite Grant program and a partnership with the WI Department of Health Services. **

This is a highly competitive grant opportunity. One program will be funded each quarter (four per year).

In 2023 and 2024, additional funds will be available specifically for new programs and businesses in Milwaukee County due to the generosity of Bader Philanthropies. This will allow for one additional program to be funded each year. 


  • It must be either a
    • 1) New program or business or
    • 2) Starting a new respite program or location as part of an existing business (expansion)
  • Program/Business must provide direct services in Wisconsin
  • A key team member of the program/business must have completed the Bringing Respite to Your Community (BRYC) Workshop


Applications will be accepted throughout the year. Award decisions will be made quarterly (see chart below). Programs may submit up to two applications per year. Programs that have not previously been selected will be given priority.

 Applications DueDecision to GranteesGrant Funds Mailed
Quarter 1December 15December 29February 5
Quarter 2March 15March 31May 5
Quarter 3June 15June 30August 5
Quarter 4September 15September 30November 5


Please review all documents and the FAQ’s below. This will provide important information to help you fill out a strong application. Failure to follow directions will result in a denial of the grant application. 

Questions can be directed to Val Madsen at [email protected].

**This project was made possible by support from the Administration for Community Living (ACL) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)  as part of a financial assistance award  (grant number 90LRLI0050) totaling $2,010,042 with 75 percentage funded by ACL/HHS and $502,968 (25 percentage) funded by non-government source(s). The contents are those of the speakers and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.


To Apply

Step 2

Fill out the online application.

Note: You cannot save and return to your application. You should type up your answers using the word document in step one for easy copy and paste. 

Step 3

Email the budget templates and additional supporting documentation to [email protected].


 Applications DueDecision to GranteesGrant Funds Mailed
Quarter 1December 15December 29February 5
Quarter 2March 15March 31May 5
Quarter 3June 15June 30August 5
Quarter 4September 15September 30November 5

Programs may submit up to two applications per year. Programs that provide services to populations and areas of the state that have not been previously served will be given priority. 

You can be at any stage of the process! RCAW asks for a program/business name and an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to receive funds. Otherwise, funds are going to you personally rather than the business. This could cause issues for your tax reporting, as it would be considered personal income. If the program is part of an existing organization, then the funds would go to that organization to fund this new program.

Grant requests can range from $5,000 to $25,000. A successful grant applicant might receive partial funding depending on available funds. 

Funds can be used for business-related start-up costs:’

  • Facility, 
  • Insurance, 
  • Licensing, 
  • Staff onboarding, 
  • Education, 
  • Printing, 
  • Marketing, 
  • Program supplies, 
  • Equipment.

Please note: these funds are  funded through a federal grant and cannot be used for food costs. 

An independent provider is an individual who is providing respite services for clients independently. They may be listed  as a sole proprietor or as an LLC and might have a contract with a county, MCO, or individual clients.  Click here to learn more about becoming an independent provider. 

A respite program has employees or volunteers that assist in providing the respite services.  For this grant,  

No,  individuals looking at becoming independent providers are not a good fit for this grant. This grant is specifically for individuals to start new respite programs in their community. 

Respite programs can be volunteer based programs or large businesses. There are many ways a respite program can look. here is a short list of some of the ways. 

Faith-based or Volunteer-based respite program – provides respite with volunteers for no to little  charge to families. These programs may run as little as a couple times a year, or as often as weekly. 

In-home respite staffing agency – this program hires employees to provide respite in the client’s homes, staff’s home, or the community. This is often one-on-one care between the staff and client. There is often a contract with a long-term care funding source, MCO, or are private pay. 

Community based respite program – these are programs that take place in a community setting such as an adult day center, a child care center, an adult family home, a community center, a park, or other place outside of the home. Typically more than one individual attends the program at one time, and there is a use of staff or volunteers to support the respite program. 

New program – this is a respite program that is brand new. This is the first service that the program or business is providing. 

Expansion program – this is a new respite program or location that is part of an existing business (ANY business).


  • An agency currently provides in-home services  and are applying to open a respite center, this is considered an expansion program.
  • A child care center wants to start offering respite care, this would be an expansion service.  

The RCAW StartUP Grant application needs to focus on the program that you are starting up. The questions need to be answered for the new program. There is one additional question about how the new program fits in with the existing organization. Here you would explain how the programs fit together, why you are expanding, etc. The rest of the application should focus on the program you are asking to be funded. Answer the question about how funds will be used as it relates to the new program. The budgets should be clear on the new program vs the existing organization. 

The  BRYC workshop is currently offered through RCAW. During the fall of 2023, a train-the-trainer program will be launched, and communities will be able to offer this workshop in their area. To find out more about the RCAW workshops and how to become a trainer, visit: Bringing Respite to Your Community Workshop.

Congrats! You will receive an agreement and paperwork to sign. Once these are returned, you will be mailed your grant award. There is a required 6-month and 1-year progress report about how the funds were used and how the program is going. Click for guidelines for these reports.

Val Madsen, Training and Development Specialist, can answer any questions you have. You can email [email protected] or set up a virtual meeting using the meeting scheduler link

Grant Program Fraud Statement RCAW funds the majority of its programs with state and federal funds. RCAW is responsible for ensuring funds are used for their intended purpose and in a manner to conduct the goals and objectives identified in the grant. RCAW reserves the right to deny a grant application if it suspects or detects fraudulent information contained on a grant application RCAW also reserves the right to report suspected fraud to the appropriate officials, and applicants will be banned from applying for grants in the future. They may be subject to repayment of said grant funds to RCAW. All parties involved in grant fraud can potentially be charged with government grant fraud. Using state and federal grant dollars for unjust enrichment, personal gain, or other than their intended use is a form of theft, subject to criminal prosecution. Read the Grant Program Detailed Fraud Disclaimer.

Overview of RCAW Respite Grant Programs

Updated August 2023

Dollars RCAW provided to new and existing respite care agencies to increase respite across the state
Dollars RCAW provided to family caregivers through the Group Respite Grant Program
Dollars RCAW provided to family caregivers to receive respite care through the Caregiver Respite Grant Program
Dollars RCAW provided to family caregivers through the Supplemental Respite Grant Program