Respite care


Children’s Hospital’s Respite Care Program was developed to provide for the increasing number of children who need short-term, out-of-home placement.

What is respite care?

It is temporary child care so parents or foster parents can have a needed break from the stress of caring for a child or adolescent, or for other reasons that help sustain the family structure. Respite is provided in the home of the respite provider.

What are the benefits of respite care?

Respite care reduces family stress and isolation, enhances family coping skills, increases feelings of well-being, supports family stability, prevents abuse and neglect, and minimizes the need for out-of-home placements. Respite care also has proven to be cost effective when it is able to prevent out-of-home care placements.

What are the requirements for respite care providers?

Children's Hospital of Wisconsin Community Services respite care providers are licensed under Wisconsin Administrative Code DCF 56, Foster Care Home for Children.

Respite providers are trained to meet the child's specific medical, emotional or behavioral needs. When multiple respite stays are needed, Children's Service Society matches the child with the same respite provider when at all possible, to create ongoing relationships between the respite providers and the children and their families.

Respite care application process

To apply to be a  respite foster parent download the application form (PDF). Fax the completed form to Amy Basting at (414) 453-2538 or mail to Children's Hospital of Wisconsin Community Services, 620 S. 76th St., Suite 120, Milwaukee, WI 53214, or email to

What type of respite care is available?

The two main types of respite care are:

  • Planned respite to give the caretaker a scheduled break (vacation, weekly/monthly breaks)
  • Emergency respite to intervene in a family crisis

I have clients who may need respite care. How can I refer them?

Just call the location nearest you. You will be asked to complete a form with specific information about the child. A Children's Hospital of Wisconsin Community Services case worker will match placements and coordinate all respite care services. The placement will be monitored by the case worker and a written report will be provided to the referring agency upon completion of the respite service.