Four things special needs parents should know about respite services!

Last week, I contacted an agency regarding resources for special needs family. As I spoke with the representative, she mentioned the word respite care. I have heard of the word and concept. However, I was unsure how to navigate the systems of care. As a matter a fact, I thought respite was available to a few privileged parents. Imagine my surprise, when she mentioned that it is available to all parents of special needs children provided that they meet the eligibility requirements.   My eyes widened in excitement as I thought of so many parents who can benefit from this resource.

  1. What is respite services?
  • Respite services provide care to special needs children utilizing structured activities while parents or caregivers receive temporary relief to practice self-care. As parents, self-care is the last thing on our mind. We are constantly nurturing and pouring into everyone else that we often forget ourselves. Respite services facilitate an opportunity to breathe, replenish and restore.
  1. Why is respite important?
  • Caregiver’s stress is real. Parents of special needs children are on intensive supervision duty 24/7 to maintain safety. Caregiver’s stress can lead to psychological distress that will manifest into physical and somatic symptoms. The above can impact your mental well being, health and decision-making skills. It can adversely impact your personal relationships as well marriages Not to mention rob you of precious time with your loved ones.
  • Often parents are ashamed to ask for help because of the stigma that is associated with seeking help. What will people think of me? “I should be able to manage my own home” a caregiver once mentioned. We can all use support at times, it does not make us weak. Rather, it takes a strong person to boldly ask for help during vulnerable moments.
  1. How can respite help families?
  • Respite allows parents to engage in activities that they find relaxing, entertaining, or restful while a trained respite worker cares for their child.

 It’s important to note, there are two types of respite services.

  • Agency Hired Respite – This service is provided to families by a qualified agency who recruit, train and employ respite workers. The workers provide social and recreational activities to children within their homes or communities. According to, Agency Hired Respite is limited to 60 hours of service (billed in 15-minute increments) per 90-day authorization. Families have the flexibility to utilize the 60 hours as needed within the 90 day authorization.
  • Self-Hired Respite – is an option to empower families who want to recruit their own respite worker. The family pays the worker directly, submit a reimburse form along with paperwork to the provider agency. The above is done on a monthly basis. It’s important to remember that Self-Hired Respite is limited to 60 hours of service (billed in 15-minute increments) per 90-day authorization.
  1. How can you access respite?
  • Respite services are part of the Family Support Services provided by the Department of Children and Families’ (DCF) NJ Children’s System of Care (CSOC). PerformCare is the contracted provider.  To learn more about eligibility for children up to age 18, Please contact PerformCare at 1(877) 652-7624. They are conveniently available 24/7 to best assist parents. If you would like to complete an online application, please visit Be sure to click on Intergrated Services-New Families. Once you have access the page, click on Applying for Determination of eligibility to complete the application.

I wish you much success with respite services. Congratulations on taking this brave step. Stay tuned for more resources in the future.



Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s