Respite and Specialized Supervision 101
A Regional Center may fund in-home respite services for the purpose of providing parents with relief from the ongoing care and supervision of their child with developmental disabilities. The number of respite hours provided is based largely on the extent of the child’s care needs, as well as extenuating family circumstances. Additional respite hours may be available on an emergency basis, e.g., due to a family health emergency or for parents to attend trainings or conferences related to the child’s disability.
Many Regional Centers use an assessment tool to calculate how many hours of respite a family should receive. There are several issues that can arise from this approach. First, the service coordinator might fill out the assessment tool without input from the family, and could make assumptions about the child’s needs and limitations that lead to a miscalculation of how many hours the family should receive. Second, many of these written assessment tools are based on a scale that assumes a maximum number of hours per month or quarter, whereas in reality there is no longer a statutory cap on the number of respite hours a family may receive — it must be tailored to the family’s specific needs. Finally, and on a related note, the tool itself can gloss over the nuances of families’ particular needs by limiting eligibility to families who can check off specific boxes on the form. Again, the number of hours awarded must be tailored to the family’s specific and individual needs. You may wish to request that the assessment tool be filled out during the IPP and with your input. You may also ask for a copy of any Regional Center policies addressing how respite is calculated and what exceptions are available. If you disagree with the Regional Center’s decision regarding your respite hours, you may file a request for fair hearing.
Many parents find themselves in need of additional respite support, especially when their children are home from school, e.g. during winter and summer breaks or during public health emergencies. Some families experience difficulties in finding individuals willing to come into their homes to provide respite services, or have concerns about bringing in outside providers, especially families with immunocompromised household members.
Some exemptions you might request may include:
Additional funding for respite services if parents’ needs for relief have changed.
A waiver to the requirement that the respite provider live outside the home, so that a roommate, extended family member, adult sibling, or other person without legal responsibility for the child may provide respite services.
Regional Centers may be able to fund specialized child care services (sometimes referred to as day care, child care, or specialized supervision) for parents who work full-time or are enrolled in full-time job training or education programs that will lead to employment and can only take place beyond the child’s school day. Some Regional Centers may offer exceptions to rules regarding what kind of work or study a parent must be engaged in to receive day care services; limited or one-time exceptions may be made for parents who are working part-time, studying for a licensing exam, doing volunteer work that helps Regional Center families, etc.
In order to receive funding for day care services, the child’s care and supervision needs must exceed that of a non-disabled child of the same age, such that they cannot participate in regular childcare resources in the community (such as day care centers, after school programs, YMCA, and others). The care hours are usually awarded during periods when a child is not in school, e.g., after school or during school vacations.
Child care is generally funded to the extent the cost exceeds childcare costs for a typical child; in other words, only the portion in excess of typical childcare costs will be funded. Often, additional child care/specialized supervision/personal assistance funding will be available for older children and young adults, as their typically developing peers can be home alone and usually do not require one-on-one day care services.
Parents who are working full-time (whether in or out of the home) may be able to request specialized supervision hours if their child’s school is not in session and the child requires supervision so that parents may continue to work. Additional exceptions/allowances may be made on a case-by-case basis.
Some requests may include:
- Treatment of full-time IHSS parent-providers as working parents to make their child eligible for supervision services during times when the child would usually be at school.
- Specialized supervision hours during the day, when children would ordinarily be in school. These are often referred to as “ESY hours,” a block of four hours per weekday that are available for children during summer breaks so parents can continue to work. Again, more hours may be available for adolescents and young adults.