Family-sized support.

Get Relief as a Caregiver

The stress of caring for a child with a disability or other special behavioral health or emotional condition can cause a caregiver to feel isolated, frustrated or depressed, according to the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS). Sometimes caregivers need additional support when balancing their child’s special needs with other responsibilities. The state provides temporary relief from caregiving through a wide variety of respite services.

What Is Respite?

Respite is a vital short-term period of rest and relief for the caregiver, enabling them to take time off while a trained respite care provider assumes their caregiving responsibilities. Using respite services can help reduce stress, stabilize the family and strengthen the caregiver’s ability to continue their important role in the child’s life.

Respite Services and Related Support Programs

  • Family Support Program: A service of the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD), this program assists individuals with severe disabilities and their families with respite care, day care services, personal assistance, transportation, homemaker services, health-related needs, nursing, counseling, specialized nutrition, clothing, supplies and other services.
    • Click here to see if you are eligible for this program.
    • For more information on the Family Support Program, contact the Family Support Program coordinator in your region: 
      • West: 901-745-7348
      • Middle: 615-231-5470 
      • East: 865-594-9288
      • Statewide: 615-532-6552
  • Planned Respite Program: The TDMHSAS works closely with many organizations that support families in need of respite services. Across the state, their planned respite consultants provide short-term respite care, assist families in finding and training their own respite providers, and work with families to identify other respite resources. This resource is open to parents or caregivers of children (birth to age 15) who have been diagnosed with a serious emotional disturbance. Families can participate in this program only once.
    • Tennessee offers seven planned respite services locations:
      • Chattanooga: 423-825-4410
      • Gallatin: 615-521-0056 
      • Jackson: 731-664-2111
      • Knoxville/Oak Ridge: 865-659-7260
      • Memphis: 901-353-5440 x.367
      • Murfreesboro: 615-890-4622
      • Tri-Cities: 423-232-2665
    • For additional information about planned respite services, please contact Program Manager Louise Barnes, Ph.D., at 615-532-6727 or email louise.barnes@tn.gov. For respite information and referral or for respite voucher services, please contact the Tennessee Respite Coalition at 888-579-3754 or 615-269-8687.
    • The Tennessee Respite Coalition’s Respite Voucher Program provides families with limited funding through reimbursable vouchers to help cover the cost of respite services. To find out if you are eligible for the program, call their toll-free Statewide Respite Helpline at 888-579-3754.
  • Relative Caregiver Program: The Department of Children’s Services Relative Caregiver Program supports children and their relative caregivers with information and referrals, respite services, support groups, recreation and enrichment, family advocacy, educational workshops, case management, and emergency financial assistance. Find out more here.
  • The Tennessee Respite Coalition: This statewide organization provides a variety of respite services: 
    • Statewide Respite Helpline (888-579-3754): This toll-free number provides information about respite resources across the state of Tennessee.
    • Family Directed Respite Voucher Program: This program reduces some of the costs of respite care for families who have a child (birth to age 18) who has been diagnosed with a serious emotional disturbance or autism. Click here to see if your family is eligible for this program, or call the Tennessee Respite Coalition Helpline (888-579-3754).  Voucher programs vary by region.
    • Senior Companions: Part of Senior Corps, this program enables volunteers to provide companionship to individuals who are dependent upon a full-time caregiver. 

Find Respite Services Near You

To find more respite service providers in your region, search the kidcentral tn State Services Directory by the keyword “respite” and also enter your ZIP code.

Additional Resources
For more respite resources across the state of Tennessee, click here.

For more information on the support networks and services for parents and caregivers of children with disabilities, click here