Legislative Action Center:
Reauthorization of the Lifespan Respite Act


The Policy Division of the 
ARCH National Respite Network


Lifespan Respite Care Program Reauthorization Act of 2017 (S. 1188/H.R. 2535)

Legislative Alerts and Updates on Reauthorization

October 2017

Rep Jim Langevin, Senator Susan Collins and Senator Tammy Baldwin on Lifespan Respite Reauthorization and Call to Action

New Legislative Alert

At the National Lifespan Respite Conference in Huntsville, Alabama, October 2017, the House and Senate champions of the Lifespan Respite Care Program Reauthorization Act presented via video message on their support for the bill and called conference participants to action to help pass the bill in the 115th Congress.


May 18, 2017

Lifespan Respite Care Program Reauthorization Act (H.R. 2535; S. 1188) Introduced in House and Senate

Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS), co-chairs of the House Bipartisan Disability Caucus, introduced the Lifespan Respite Care Program Reauthorization Act on May 18, 2017. The companion bill was introduced in the Senate by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), chair of the Senate Select Committee on Aging and a member of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), and Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), who is also a member of the HELP Committee that has jurisdiction over the bill. 

The Lifespan Respite Care Program, through grants to states, helps build coordinated State Lifespan Respite systems to improve access to services, helps family caregivers pay for respite or find funding sources, encourages development of new and innovative community and faith based respite opportunities, and trains respite workers and volunteers.

The legislation would reauthorize the program through 2022 at an authorization level of $75 million over five years ($15 million each year). To access the text of the bill, an official summary, and cosponsors as the information becomes available, visit H.R 2535 and S. 1188 on Congress.gov.

Letter from National Endorsing Organizations

House Press Release

Senator Collins' Press Release

Senator Baldwin's Press Release

Side-by-side summary and comparison of Legislation to Current Law

March 9, 2017

Bipartisan Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act Introduced in House and Senate 

Lifespan Respite Reauthorization introduced in the House and Senate as a Provision in Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act (S. 591; H.R. 1472) 

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), and Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI) introduced legislation to assist family caregivers of wounded, ill, or injured veterans. The Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act (S. 591; H.R. 1472) would expand upon the Department of Veterans Affairs’ current caregiver services program and reauthorize the Lifespan Respite Care Program. The bill was inspired by a Rand study commissioned by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation that highlighted the physical, emotional and financial challenges military and veteran caregivers face and documented that the respite needs of military caregivers were going unmet, as were many other supports. 

The legislation would: 

  • Make veterans of all eras eligible for caregiver support services. Currently, only post-9/11 veterans are eligible. 

  • Make the program more inclusive of veterans with mental health injuries 

  • Reauthorize the Lifespan Respite Care Program for five years 

  • Give veterans the opportunity to transfer GI Bill benefits to a dependent, to help unemployed or underemployed spouses of injured veterans prepare to become the primary income earner for the family. 

  • Make caregivers who work in the federal government eligible for flexible work schedules 

  • Provide assistance to family caregivers with childcare, financial advice and legal counseling. 

Lifespan Respite Provisions: The bill, identical to the Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act  introduced in the last Congress, includes a five year reauthorization of the Lifespan Respite Care Program. The Lifespan Respite provisions in S. 591 and H.R. 1472 add only a few changes to current law. Family caregivers of veterans who are receiving compensation under the VA Caregiver Support Program are added to the definition of eligible family caregivers, and veterans participating in the program of comprehensive assistance for family caregivers are added to the definition of adults with special needs. The language also requires that the “interagency working group on policies relating to caregivers of veterans,” that is established under the new Military and Veterans Caregiver Services program, be included with those federal agencies and programs that must work with the Secretary of HHS to ensure coordination at the federal level.

Side-by-side Comparison of Lifespan Respite Provisions in S.591/HR 1472 with Current Law and with Lifesspan Respite Care Program Reauthorization Act of 2017 (HR 2535/S. 1188)

Bill Summary

Press Release of Sen. Patty Murray

Press Release of Sen. Susan Collins

Press Reliease of Rep. Jim Langevin


Ask your Senators and House Representative to sign on as cosponsors of the Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act (S. 591; H.R. 1472)  

Call the Capitol Hill Switchboard at (202) 225-3121 and ask for your Senator's or Representative's office. Ask for the health or disability legislative staff.

Message: Please cosponsor the Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act, S. 591 or H.R. 1472. If you are not able to speak directly to staff, leave a message. Be sure to tell them why respite is so important to you and to other family caregivers in your state.

Thank your Senators and Representatives if they have already joined as cosponsors.

Senate cosponsors of S. 591 
House cosponsors of H.R. 1472 



FACTS and Talking Points for Respite, click here.



Summary of Lifespan Respite Care Reauthorization (changes as a result of provisions in S. 1188 and H.R. 2535 in italics):

Use of Funds:

The Lifespan Respite Program law authorizes competitive grants to eligible state agencies in collaboration with a public or private non-profit state respite coalition or organization to make quality respite available and accessible to family caregivers regardless of age or disability. Aging and Disability Resource Centers must be involved as collaborators as well. The law allows grantees to identify, coordinate and build on federal, state and local respite resources and funding streams, and would help support, expand and streamline planned and emergency respite, provider recruitment and training, and caregiver training. Grantees will have the option of using funds for training programs for family caregivers in making informed decisions about respite services; for other services essential to the provision of respite; and for training and education for new caregivers.

What is a Lifespan Respite Program?

A lifespan respite program provides a coordinated system of accessible, community-based respite care services for family caregivers of children and adults with special needs.

Lead Agency Eligibility

Funds are provided on a competitive grant basis to specified state agencies or an agency appointed by the Governor. The state lead entity must involve an Aging and Disability Resource Center and work in collaboration with a public or private nonprofit statewide respite coalition or organization. A memorandum of agreement is required in the application. Priority would be given to applicants who show the greatest likelihood of implementing or enhancing lifespan respite care statewide.

Who Can Access Lifespan Respite Programs?

Caregivers who are family members, foster parents, other adults providing unpaid (clarified in report language) care for an adult or child with a special need may access these programs. 

Adult with special need is defined broadly as a person 18 years of age or older who requires care or supervision to meet the person's basic needs, to prevent physical self-injury or injury to others,or to avoid placement in an institutional facility. 

A child with a special need is a person less than 18 years of age who requires care or supervision beyond that required of children generally to meet the child's basic needs or prevent physical self-injury or injury to others.

Application Submission

The Governor submits application on behalf of the State Agency that administers the Older American's Act, the State's Medicaid program, or another agency designated by the Governor.

Federal Administration

Secretary of Health and Human Services is required to work in cooperation with the National Family Caregiver Support Program Officer of the Administration on Aging and other respite care programs within the Department to ensure coordination of respite for family caregivers.

Funding Authorization

$15 m for each of fiscal years 2018-2022. 

National Resource Center

Establishes National Resource Center on Lifespan Respite Care

 State Reports


Each eligible State agency awarded a grant or cooperative agreement must collect, maintain, and report such data and records to enable the Secretary—
(1) to monitor State administration of programs and activities funded pursuant to such grant or cooperative agreement; and
(2) to evaluate, and to compare effectiveness on a State-by-State basis, of programs and activities funded.


Jill Kagan, MPH
Chair, National Respite Coalition
Policy Division of the ARCH National Respite Network
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.