Respite Photos

If you're looking for a respite provider for children in Des Moines or Iowa City, then you have come to the right place. ChildServe Respite is designed to give families a break from the day-to-day care involved in supporting a child with special health care needs. We offer individual and specialized respite, where children spend time one-on-one with a caregiver in the family’s home or community. Group respite options for youth, like sleepovers, Kids Club, and Camp ChildServe, offer great opportunities for socialization and fun!

Respite Benefits for Kids
  • Safe, quality care
  • Opportunities for new experiences
  • Opportunities to socialize with others
  • Participation in community activities
  • FUN!
Benefits for the Family
  • Opportunity for a break and time to recharge!
  • Opportunity to devote time to other family members, friends and self
  • Provides options for care during crisis/emergencies
  • Provides additional support during stressful times
  • Strengthens family relationships
ChildServe families say respite means...
  • Loving care
  • Friends
  • Fun
  • Basketball
  • Swimming
  • High energy
  • Break for parents
Respite Outing at Incredible Pizza
ChildServe Types of Respite 3 person Icon

Types of Respite

Individual Respite

Individual Respite offers the opportunity for children to spend one-on-one time with a caregiver in the family’s home or community.

Specialized Respite

Specialized Respite provides one-on-one Respite care with a licensed nurse in the family’s home or community setting.

Group Respite Options
  • Respite Weekends are staffed with nursing support and run from Friday through Sunday evenings.
  • Sleepovers are monthly groups which offer children and teens the opportunity for socialization.
  • Kids Club and Super Saturdays offer families a daytime group option on Saturdays.
  • Camp ChildServe is accredited by the American Camp Association, offering weekly and full summer program options.
ChildServe Respite Caregivers are the best!

Best Caregivers Around!

ChildServe’s respite caregivers are awesome, and it shows - our community-based programs have 94% family satisfaction!

Here's Why:
  • When possible we hire the child’s friends or family members to provide respite care
  • We provide all training required - and staff are paid for their time
  • Starting wages more than $10/hour with annual increases or bonuses
  • All staff age 21+ are eligible for our 403(b) retirement program and company match

If your family needs respite services, talk to your friends and family members about joining Iowa’s best team of caregivers!


Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible to participate in respite services?

Respite services are offered through ChildServe for kids and youth adults age 0 through 21 or until they transition to adult services. The individual must qualify for the Intellectual Disability (ID), the Health and Disability (HD), or the Brain Injury (BI) Medicaid Waivers to be enrolled for respite services. If the individual does not have Medicaid Waiver funding, however, another funding source is able to be obtained, admission can be considered.

How are referrals made?

Referrals can be made by a number of interested parties, including members of the individual’s care team, parents/guardians, or the individual’s case manager. Referrals can be made to the Respite and SCL Service Manager who will then send out an initial application for community services.

How are services authorized and funded?

Respite services are funded through Medicaid Waivers. There is no fee to the individual for respite. There may be activity related costs that the individual would be responsible for.

Services are authorized by the individual’s case manager or service worker. Typically there is a care team meeting to discuss service options, assess needs, identify goals, and determine the frequency of services to be provided. A Notice of Decision will be provided to ChildServe and the family, stating how many units of service are authorized either monthly or annually.

What services are provided?

ChildServe provides the following types of respite to families in Iowa:
•    Individual (basic) – one/one with a staff
•    Specialized Respite – one/one with a nurse
•    Group Respite
•    Respite provided in a group setting at ChildServe with a 1:3 staff/individual ratio
•    Respite provided in family home, staff homes, or community with multiple children (i.e. two siblings, both eligible for waiver services)
•    Camp ChildServe- day camp provided in a group setting with a 1:3 staff/individual ratio.Day Camp is open for children who are school aged.

Where are services provided?

Respite services take place year-round in the following locations:
•    The ChildServe Respite Center (Ames, Johnson and Iowa City) – Group Respite/camp options
•    Individual’s home/community setting
•    Staff’s home
•    Camp may be held at an off-site location in both the Ames and Johnston areas

When are services provided?

Respite services may be provided any day of the week and any time of the day. Families are able to give preferences based on their needs.

  • Individual (basic) & Specialized Respite: Families can arrange to self schedule with their staff, or go through their respite supervisor to set up consistent day/time with staff or nurse.
  • Group Respite: Group services are offered every weekend of the year with the exception of identified holiday weekends. Weekend groups run from Friday through Sunday. Additional groups are offered Friday evenings or Saturdays during the day.
  • Camp ChildServe day groups are offered during Spring Break, Winter Break, and all summer long.

How often can I utilize respite services?

Individuals enrolled in respite are authorized a specific number of hours each month or on an annual basis, depending on which waiver they are eligible for. We ask that individuals enrolled through ChildServe utilize respite on a consistent monthly basis.

Families will receive a Notice of Decision authorizing the number of hours that are available. It is the family’s responsibility to utilize services within the authorized amount. A daily cap has been established through the waiver. For ChildServe, this means the maximum utilization on any calendar day would be:

  • Group Respite – 24 hours
  • Individual/Basic Respite – 17 hours
  • Specialized Respite – 8 hours
An individual could be eligible for up to 48 hours/month or more, depending on their level of care and which waiver they are on.

Are there any guidelines or special rules that apply to respite?

  • Respite may not be provided while both parents/primary caregivers are working (as childcare).
  • Respite is only for the individual enrolled in the respite service, and therefore staff may not provide supervision to siblings or other children during the respite shift.
  • Respite cannot be provided during doctor, therapy or other medical type appointments if provided through Medicaid funding.
  • Respite cannot be provided during school.

Are there any other requirements for enrollment?

  • ChildServe enrolls individuals who live in Polk, Story, or surrounding counties in Iowa. If staff is available, ChildServe may also enroll individuals from counties outside this service area in Iowa. ChildServe will also consider enrolling an individual outside our service area if the family is willing to travel to Ames or Johnston for group respite.
  • For group services, an individual must be able to be successful in a 1:3 staff/individual ratio.

What about family friends?

ChildServe is able to hire specific people for your family to use as a respite provider. The applicant will still go through our application process, background checks and paid training (including child-specific trainings). Once employed through ChildServe, staff make more than $10/hour and are eligible for our 403(b) retirement program and company match.

I’m interested in enrolling. What happens next?

Once you have determined you are interested in respite you can contact your case manager, DHS worker, or ChildServe to initiate a referral. ChildServe will meet with you to complete an assessment and develop care plans for your child.  We will identify the type of respite you may be interested in, potential schedule, preferences for staff, or if you have a staff you’d like us to hire on your behalf.

How are respite services documented?

The staff completes documentation for every respite session provided. This would include a narrative of cares, activities, staff interventions, and the individual’s response to services. Respite services must be verified by a parent or guardian either through a protected parent portal or on a signature page given by the respite staff, for every respite shift. Parents can view documentation that has been completed electronically for their child and can verify services (date, time) electronically. Families also have the right to request copies of respite documentation at any time.

Once my child starts services, how do I stay enrolled.

The first step to staying enrolled is utilizing respite service consistently. Your ChildServe Respite Supervisor will need to update paperwork at least annually, to continue services. If other things change before that annual meeting on care plans, it is the family’s responsibility to keep ChildServe updated so staff have the most current information to work with your child.

What if my child and/or family have needs beyond respite?

If you need additional resources, you may contact your child’s respite supervisor, ChildServe care manager, or case manager. These individuals can assist you in making referrals or providing additional options for resources such as medical, employment, transportation, food, clothing, shelter, etc.



Barb Williams


Service Manager

Phone Icon Gaye Johnson 515-727-1476 Case Management