Standards for public agencies

2020 Edition

Child and Family Services (PA-CFS) 30: Respite Care for Children in Out-of-Home Care

Respite care reduces caregiver stress, ensures child safety and well-being, and promotes the stability of placements.


This core concept addresses respite care provided in resource family homes licensed by the agency, as well as when the agency is working with licensed, contracted respite care providers for the children in care. 


If care is going to continue for an indefinite period of time, the notice and placement preferences in the Indian Child Welfare Act may apply.
NA The agency does not work with children placed in out-of-home care.
2020 Edition




Child and Family Services promote child and family well-being, protect children’s safety, stablilize and strengthen families, and ensure permanency.
Full Implementation, Outstanding Performance
A rating of (1) indicates that the agency's practices fully meet the standard and reflect a high level of capacity.  
  • All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, with rare or no exceptions; exceptions do not impact service quality or agency performance. 
Substantial Implementation, Good Performance
A rating of (2) indicates that an agency's infrastructure and practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement. 
  • The majority of the standards requirements have been met and the basic framework required by the standard has been implemented.  
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality or agency performance.  
Partial Implementation, Concerning Performance
A rating of (3) indicates that the agency's observed infrastructure and/or practices require significant improvement.  
  • The agency has not implemented the basic framework of the standard but instead has in place only part of this framework.   
  • Omissions or exceptions to the practices outlined in the standard occur regularly, or practices are implemented in a cursory or haphazard manner. 
  • Service quality or agency functioning may be compromised.   
  • Capacity is at a basic level.
Unsatisfactory Implementation or Performance
A rating of (4) indicates that implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all.  
  • The agency’s observed service delivery infrastructure and practices are weak or non-existent; or show signs of neglect, stagnation, or deterioration.  
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
  • Procedures for matching children with respite caregivers (or for conveying information to the program that will conduct matching)


  • Number of children permitted in respite care homes
  • Health and safety procedures
  • Contracts or service agreements with respite care providers, if applicable
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Respite caregivers
    4. Resource parents
  • Review case records
  • Review resource parent records

Fundamental Practice

PA-CFS 30.01

Children are matched with respite caregivers who can meet their needs, and:  
  1. are familiar with their daily routines, preferred foods, and activities; 
  2. respect their culture, race, ethnicity, language, religion, gender identity, and sexual orientation;
  3. offer enriching activities appropriate to their interests, age, development, physical abilities, interpersonal characteristics, culture, and special needs;
  4. work with resource parents to plan for children’s continued participation in any therapeutic, educational, or employment activities, when applicable; and
  5. have the appropriate skills and qualifications to care for children with therapeutic or medical needs, when applicable.



Agencies that do not provide respite care in their own resource family homes may not be responsible for matching but should ensure that relevant information about the child is communicated to the respite care program to facilitate appropriate matching.

Fundamental Practice

PA-CFS 30.02

When respite care is provided in response to a crisis, the agency provides needed developmentally, culturally, and age appropriate interventions to help children cope with trauma or stress associated with the crisis.
NA The agency does not provide respite care in crisis situations.

Fundamental Practice

PA-CFS 30.03

Respite caregiver homes have no more than five children total and no more than:
  1. two children under age two;
  2. four children over age 13; and
  3. two foster children in treatment foster care.



The total number of children includes all children under the age of 18 in the home, including both children residing in the home and children in respite care. Exceptions to the total number of children approved to reside with the family are usually considered only to accommodate sibling groups, kinship care placements, or if the home is specially licensed by the state or tribe to care for more children. When overnight care is provided, accommodations should include sleeping arrangements appropriate to the number, age, special needs, and gender of the individuals in the home.


When respite care settings are routinely licensed, approved, or certified according to state, tribal, or local regulation to contain a total of six children they may receive a rating of 2 when they can demonstrate they are meeting the needs of every child.  This can be demonstrated by a combination of factors, such as:
  1. strong performance on safety, permanency, and well-being outcomes;
  2. strong performance in resource family satisfaction and retention;
  3. manageable caseload sizes for workers;             
  4. ensuring space sufficient to maintain a safe and home-like environment; 
  5. offering additional respite or child care opportunities to respite caregivers; and
  6. maintaining a lower capacity in settings where foster children and other dependents have higher needs.

Fundamental Practice

PA-CFS 30.04

When children in respite care experience accidents, health problems, or changes in appearance or behavior, information is promptly recorded and reported to the resource parents and administration, and follow-up occurs, as needed.

Fundamental Practice

PA-CFS 30.05

Respite caregivers return children only to the resource parents, or another person approved by the resource parents, and follow procedures for situations that pose a safety risk or when a child requires protection.

Examples: Procedures may include directions on how to engage community resources such as law enforcement or cab companies when individuals pose a safety risk, such as when individuals are intoxicated by drugs or alcohol, are mentally or physically unstable, or present another safety concern.