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For people with Down syndrome, family members, caregivers and professionals.

Overview and Types of Respite

July 2022 | Ann Garcia - Patient Advocate, Adult Down Syndrome Center

Respite care is short-term relief for primary caregivers. It can be used for as short as a few hours to as long as several weeks. Respite care can be provided in a variety of settings including the individual's home, an adult day care center, or residential facility. There are different types of respite which are described below. Please see our Respite Organizations and Providers article for a list of organizations and providers that offer respite services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Illinois.

Please note: Some of this information is specific to the greater Chicagoland area and/or Illinois. If you are looking for information for a different region, we recommend reaching out to a local Down syndrome parent organization or reviewing the resources provided on the ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center website.


In-Home Respite

Agencies which offer in-home respite services generally provide funding for a certain number of respite hours per year. Some agencies may provide the respite workers or provide families with the names of approved respite workers. If families select a respite worker on their own, the worker may need to go through the agency's screening/training process. Care is usually provided in the individual's home. 

Residential Respite

Agencies which offer residential respite accept the individual requiring care for a short-term stay in one of the facilities run by the agency. The facility's medical and direct support staff temporarily care for the individual to allow the primary caregiver time to attend to their own needs and responsibilities. Families usually need to complete an application. The cost of the stay is covered by a state respite grant. 

Group Respite

Agencies which offer group respite provided scheduled programming for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Programming may include music and art classes and/or time to socialize with others in a supervised and safe environment. 

Respite Voucher Program

Families can apply for a respite voucher at one of the agencies offering voucher respite. The grant can be used to pay for a respite worker or pay for an activity for the individual, such as a park district program. 

Emergency Respite

Emergency respite grants can be obtained through the Illinois Respite Coalition if funding is available. Emergency respite is currently funded through a Lifespan Respite Care program grant from the Administration for Community Living.

When the program is funded, families may qualify for emergency respite if caregivers are at risk of losing their employment or their home, if the family is facing an unexpected event (such as a funeral) or a family emergency, or if a primary caregiver is ill or hospitalized or has passed away. 

*Please note:
  • These respite programs are intended for families in which the individual with an intellectual or developmental disability is not receiving any waiver-funded services such as the Division of Developmental Disabilities' Home and Community Based Support programs, Community Day Services, Community Integrated Living Arrangements, Supported Employment, or the DRS Home Services Program. 

Find More Resources

We offer a variety of resources for people with Down syndrome, their families and caregivers and the professionals who care for and work with them. Search our collection of articles, webinars, videos, and other educational materials.

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Please note: The information on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as a substitute for a medical, psychiatric, mental health, or behavioral evaluation, diagnosis, or treatment plan by a qualified professional. We recommend you review the educational material with your health providers regarding the specifics of your health care needs.