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Novel Coronavirus - COVID-19: Information for Community Behavioral Health Providers, Consumers, and Families


Respite is a break from the constant care of a family member with an illness or disability.  Stress from constant care can affect caregivers’ health and functioning and potentially harm the family unit.  Getting respite allows time for caregivers to attend to their personal health and needs. When caregivers take care of themselves, they are better equipped to continue care for their loved one at home.

To get respite, caregivers must find a respite provider, train that provider to care for their loved one, and pay the respite provider.

If your child has a Serious Emotional Disturbance (SED), then consider the Planned Respite and Respite Voucher programs.  Both programs help parents find respite providers, train providers, and pay for providers.

Planned Respite is a program that helps enrolled caregivers of children with Serious Emotional Disturbance (SED) learn the skills necessary for getting respite care. 

Planned Respite teaches caregivers how to find respite providers and to train those providers on how to care for their children. Planned Respite also gives caregivers some immediately-needed respite. 

Caregivers of children, ages 2-15, with Serious Emotional Disturbance (SED) are eligible to participate in Planned Respite. Planned Respite lasts about 3 months. Families may enroll once.

The Respite Voucher program helps caregivers whose children are diagnosed with Serious Emotional Disturbance (SED) or with autism and SED pay for respite services.  Families helped by the Respite Voucher program select and train their own respite provider. The respite voucher helps the family to pay that respite provider.

How Respite Vouchers Work:

  • Respite vouchers are self-directed.
  • All caregivers in the program are allowed a set amount to pay for respite services as needed for one year.
  • Funding for this program is limited.

For More Information

If you have concerns or need services for yourself, a child, or family member, contact our Helpline:
Phone: 800-560-5767
Hours: Monday – Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (except for state holidays)

If you feel at any time that you are experiencing a mental health crisis, please call the Tennessee Statewide Crisis Line toll-free 24 hours, 7 days a week at 1-855-274-7471.

To learn more about respite programs, please contact:

Caty Davis
Program Manager