Lifespan Respite

DPHHS Receives Lifespan Respite Grant

Research indicates that family caregivers provide 80% of all caregiving in the United States. Other studies highlight the need for greater use of respite continues to increase every year.

An estimated 42 million Family caregivers age 18 and older provide unpaid assistance and support to older people and adults with disabilities who live in the community. The value of this unpaid labor force was is estimated to be at least $450 billion annually, nearly double the combined costs of home health care ($58 billion) and nursing home care ($134 billion).

Family caregivers regularly assist relatives and other loved ones with a broad range of tasks ranging from routine to complex. A 2009 study by the National Alliance for Caregiving estimated that 65.7 million people in the U.S. were unpaid family caregivers to an adult or child.

According to the AARP’s 2012 Across the States report, Montana had 131,000 family caregivers in 2009, providing care giving services valued at $1.39 million. The same study showed that only 12% of caregivers have used a respite service: 88% of caregivers never get a break from their fulltime caregiver responsibilities. In Montana, this translates to a potential 115,000 caregivers who forego respite services.

The Family Caregiver Alliance report shows that caregivers tend not to seek respite services until the burden of care giving is high and people are exhausted and overwhelmed by their care giving duties. All these factors stress the ongoing need for increased awareness of respite services and their benefits for caregivers.

Overview of the Lifespan Respite Grant

The Lifespan Respite Care Program was authorized by Congress in 2006 under Title XXIX of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C 201). Lifespan Respite Care programs are coordinated systems of accessible, community-based respite care services for family caregivers of children and adults of all ages with special needs. The Lifespan Respite Care Program is intended to enable states to better coordinate existing respite services, identify service gaps and create and monitor new respite services.

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) was awarded a 3-year grant September 1, 2014 to expand the lifespan respite infrastructure to make respite services available to all frontier and rural caregivers in Montana by establishing a statewide, coordinated system of easily accessible, quality and affordable lifespan respite care services for Montana family caregivers of individuals regardless of special needs. The Aging Services Bureau will continue to coordinate the grant with four other respite programs within DPHHS:

  • Seniors over 60 and grandparents over 55 through the Aging Services Bureau and Seniors over 60 or an adult with a physical disability through the Medicaid Waiver program in the Senior and Long Term Care Division
  • Child or an adult with a developmental disability through the Disabilities Services Division
  • Adults who have a Serious Disabling Mental Illness through the Addictive and Mental Disorders Division
  • Children in family foster care through the Child and Family Services Division

The specific goal of this grant is to enhance the newly developed infrastructure for the continued sustainable lifespan respite program in collaboration with the Montana Lifespan Respite Coalition and Montana’s Aging Disability Resource Centers (ADRC). The grant goals are to:

  • develop innovative LR service models that simplify caregiver access to respite;
  • reduce barriers that impede the efficient provision of respite
  • Increase caregiver awareness of the purpose, need for and availability of respite, allowing them to make informed decisions about obtaining respite care.
  • Develop options for caregiver respite training;
  • Implement the 2014 LR sustainability, growth and succession plan that was established in the previous.

Overview of the Initial Lifespan Respite Grant

August 1, 2011 through July 30, 2014


The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) was awarded a grant to implement the Lifespan Respite program statewide. The Aging services bureau coordinated the grant with four other respite programs with DPHHS.

The process for the initial grant started in 2011 through a Lifespan Respite Summit held in March 2011 to address respite needs, gaps and to determine the current use. The participants involved non-profit providers, caregivers, government agencies and other stakeholders who in turn met to prioritize issues and needs which became the components for the initial grant. The goals established by the grant involved working with interested parties to develop a viable statewide Lifespan Respite Coalition; assess caregiver needs for respite and increase the ability of respite providers to meet these needs using a Lifespan Respite model; reduce programmatic barriers to the provision of respite through the department funded respite programs; develop a statewide website with a database identifying respite providers, eligibility requirements and funding sources for respite so caregivers can access information to make informed decisions about respite care; and increase caregiver’s and public awareness about the need for and availability of respite.

DPHHS contracted with Developmental Educational Assistance Program (DEAP) a nonprofit corporation to implement the grant. This same year a state workgroup was formed consisting of DEAP and representatives of all the Department of Public Health and Human Services that provide respite and caregivers. Focus groups and surveys were completed to assist in establishing a strategic plan. In 2013, the workgroup merged with the Montana Lifespan Coalition which consisted of non-profit providers, caregivers, and other respite providers across the state. The group met approximately every other month. Four committees were also created as a result of this merger and to implement the stated goals and strategic plan. These included the Caregiver Education and Training Committee, Respite Responders Committee, Website Committee and Executive Committee. In 2014, the Lifespan Respite Website was launched.

Lifespan Respite State Coordinator:
Kerrie Reidelbach (406) 444-0998