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Respite Services

What is respite care?

Respite care is a family support service that provides temporary relief from the daily challenges involved in caring for a family member with an intellectual and/or physical disability.

The benefits of respite care are numerous, but not always obvious. This service allows parents and primary caregivers time for themselves and can support and strengthen their ability to take care of their child. It can provide a break in the daily routine to help parents avoid burnout, stress and fatigue.

Respite care also gives the child a change in her daily routine. It can provide the child with opportunities to build new relationships, move toward independence, participate in community activities, and make new friends.

Respite options:

Respite is provided in many ways depending on the source (agency or individual), the needs of your family and available funds. Some respite programs send a caregiver to the family’s home, while others require that the child come to a respite group home. At the same time, many parents choose to hire an individual to provide in-home respite care for their child. coordinates a network of agencies and organizations in Ontario, providing respite services to individuals with various disabilities, and their families. A respite access facilitator is available to help families identify their needs and locate the appropriate respite options.’s objectives and main functions are:

  • to develop and maintain a consistent process for your family to access respite care
  • to facilitate creative respite options that meet each of your child’s individual needs
  • to maximize efficient and effective use of respite resources
  • to provide ease of access of information about respite services to families and to increase their options for respite care
  • to identify gaps in service and help with community service planning

The CHAP (Community Helpers for Active Participation) Program is an integral part of and helps connect individuals with disabilities and CHAP workers. This is done through a Worker Database where the CHAP Program recruits workers interested in supporting persons with intellectual disabilities, including autism and/or a physical disability, to provide meaningful respite opportunities in the home or in the community. Families are able to access workers after joining the Family Registry.

Visit the website for more information about respite services in your community –

How do I pay for this service?

Parents can apply for provincial funding by completing an application for the following services:

Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities (ACSD)

This funding provides financial assistance to parents to help with the extraordinary costs related to the child’s disability. It is a direct funding program based on the family’s total gross income. This program is for children under the age of eighteen (18) living at home with their family or caregivers. Caregivers can apply by filling out an application with or without the assistance of an agency or professional.

Special Services at Home (SSAH)

This funding is designed to assist families caring for a member who has a developmental and/or physical disability. The program focuses on providing funding to assist families to purchase supports not available elsewhere in the community. 

Families who receive funding have the option of hiring a worker who can spend time with the child at home and/or assist the child learning new skills. 

Respite Care During COVID-19

As part of the SSAH program, families may use their funding to hire family members, neighbours or friends to provide respite services. This allows families who cannot hire respite workers or have concerns about having workers in their homes, to hire trusted family or friends to provide respite.

Individuals are not eligible to be hired through SSAH funding if they are a primary caregiver or under the age of 18.

Families who receive SSAH funding can submit respite expenses for reimbursement through mail, email, fax or through, a free direct funding management tool.

A Parent’s Experience With Respite Care

My name is Suzanne and I have two sons with special needs. My son Mekhi was diagnosed with PDD at 3½ years old and Malin a Communication Disorder at 2.

Being a fulltime working mom is a job in itself, when you have children with special needs, it takes every ounce of energy and any spare time that you have.

During the devastating time of their diagnosis, I was dealing with communication issues, temper tantrums and self-injurious behaviours. I felt so alone and isolated in my home. My husband worked days and I worked nights. We couldn’t trust anyone with our children, because they couldn’t communicate their needs and wants.

Finally through a friend I was told about a drop-in program for children with special needs that are integrated with “normal” children.

I enrolled them Monday to Friday from 9:00 to 11:15 am. This was the best thing I could have ever done. It gave me a much needed break from my kids each day. I actually had time for me (I loved it) and when I would pick them up, I was so happy to see them. I felt so refreshed and ready to tackle anything.

The children also loved it; they got to interact with other children, do arts and crafts, sing songs and make friends.

I really recommend Respite Care; it really changed my life and gave me a better perspective on things. All parents at times need a break from their children. This is exactly what I needed. It made me be a better parent.

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