Respite Care Services

1200-500.40 | Revision Date: 07/01/14


This policy guide describes the eligibility requirements and responsibilities for primary caregivers requesting respite care and outlines the procedure for approving respite care requests and processing service payment requests.



Respite Care Eligibility

Respite Care Providers

Caregivers Requesting Respite Care


Responding to a Respite Care Request

Case-Carrying CSW Responsibilities


Helpful Links


Referenced Policy Guides


Version Summary

This policy guide was updated from the 03/14/11 version, as part of the Policy Redesign, in accordance with the DCFS Strategic Plan. The title has been changed to “Respite Care Services”.


Respite Care Eligibility

The respite care program provides children with prearranged child care and temporary out-of-home care when caregivers are in crisis or when a caregiver is absent or incapacitated. It provides caregivers with substitute care and temporary relief from the responsibilities of foster parenting.


Respite Care Services allows caregivers to receive up to 72 continuous hours of respite care services one time per fiscal year (July 1 – June 30). 


Respite care services are available to the following out-of-home caregivers who are serving as paid, non-treatment foster care placements at the time of the expense:


The following out-of-home placements do not qualify for respite care services:


If a court order with clear and specific language requires DCFS to pay for respite care, the child’s placement type does not matter and the 72 hour time limit may not apply.

Respite Care Providers

Respite care providers must be licensed foster parents who are willing and able to provide quality care and supervision, regardless of a child’s history and current emotional and behavioral status. Respite care providers receive reimbursement from DCFS at a flat rate of $3.00 per child, per hour. 


Respite care providers must meet the following guidelines:

Caregivers Requesting Respite Care

Requests for respite care services are voluntary and must be approved by the case-carrying CSW prior to respite care being provided. Caregivers requesting respite are responsible for finding their own respite care providers, for transporting children to and from respite care, and for providing respite care providers with any medications or special instructions, and all relevant information about the child’s health, behavior, special needs and visitation requirements.


Caregivers do not need to request that foster care payments be stopped during the time the child is in respite care.

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Responding to a Respite Care Request

Case Carrying CSW Responsibilities

  1. Assess the respite care request, and inform the caregiver whether the request is appropriate according to respite care guidelines.


  1. If the respite care request is appropriate, inform the caregiver of the following:
  1. Respite care is limited to 72 hours per fiscal year, per child, at a rate of $3.00 per hour, with a maximum claim of $216.
  1. The caregiver is responsible for finding an approved, licensed respite care provider.
  1. Once a respite care provider is found, the caregiver must inform the CSW to determine if the care provider is appropriate.
  1. In the event of an emergency, the caregiver must notify the CSW by phone prior to receiving respite care services.
  1. For after-hours emergencies, the caregiver must call the Child Protection Hotline (CPH) at (800) 540-4000. 
  1. The CSW must document any emergency situation in the Contact Notebook.


  1. Once a respite care provider has been identified by the caregiver, confirm that the provider is a licensed foster parent in good standing by verifying the following:


  1. Consult with SCSW prior to approving the respite care provider.


  1. If the identified respite care provider is approved, inform the caregiver of the approval and instruct the caregiver of the following:
  1. The primary caregiver is responsible for the transportation of the child.
  1. The caregiver must provide the respite care provider with the following:
  1. In the event of a crisis or emergency, the respite caregiver must notify the primary caregiver, the CSW, and the CPH at (800) 540-4000.
  1. Once respite care services have been provided, the caregiver or respite care provider must provide a signed letter to the CSW confirming that respite care services were provided.  The letter must specify the name, address, and license number of the respite care provider, as well as the name of the child, and the dates respite care was provided.


  1. Once respite services have been provided, complete the DCFS 5540 This graphic links to a form tutorial video., Special Payment Authorization Request.


  1. Obtain SCSW and ARA approval for the DCFS 5540.


  1. Once approval has been received, fax the following to the Special Payment Unit at (213) 637-2551:

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SCSW Approval

ARA Approval



LA Kids

DCFS 5540 This graphic links to a form tutorial video., Special Payment Authorization Request

Referenced Policy Guides

0100-510.10, Capacity in a Relative/Nonrelative Extended Family Member/Foster Family Home or FFA Certified Home

0900-522.11, Specialized Care Increment (SCI) – F-Rate

0900-522.10, Specialized Care Increment (SCI) – D-Rate


Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) Section 16501 – Defines, in part, child welfare services, service-funded activities, respite care and related regulations.

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