We’re Here When You Need Us

Respite care is designed to give families a break from the day-to-day care involved in raising  a child with special healthcare needs. ChildServe’s respite service allows parents to attend events for their other children, schedule appointments for themselves, or simply take time to recharge.

Meanwhile, our caretakers help kids safely do the things they love in individual or group settings. We offer many types of respite care that can take place in the comfort of the family’s home, in the community, or even in a group setting. All options provide children with safe, quality care while families recharge.

From having sleepovers with friends, swimming, and bowling, to playing adaptive sports and videogames, the list of fun activities to do at ChildServe Respite keeps growing!

Why choose ChildServe?

Specially Trained Caregivers
Our specially trained caregivers have education and experience in serving children with special healthcare needs.
Family & Friends
We hire family members or friends of each child to provide respite care when possible. Potential caregivers must pass ChildServe background checks, requirements, and training.
We hold CARFmeans that the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities recognizes ChildServe as an organization that meets rigorous guidelines for service and quality and conforms to nationally and internationally recognized standards.
accreditations in pediatrics, brain injury, and inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation.

Who We Serve

Respite care is available to children with special healthcare needs (infant through 21 years old) who qualify for the Brain Injury (BI), Intellectual Disability (ID), or Health Disability (HD) Medicaid Waivers. Each family receives a set number of hours per year or month as determined by their child’s needs and waiver type.

Program Features

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Individual Respite

Individual Respite offers one-on-one time with a caretaker in the family’s home or community. We provide this service in the communities surrounding our Ames, Iowa City, and Johnston locations.
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Specialized Respite

Specialized Respite offers one-on-one time with a licensed nurse in the family’s home. We provide this service in the communities surrounding our Ames, Iowa City and Johnston locations.

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Group Respite

Group Respite offers a one-to-three staff/child ratio in a variety of activities. All Group Respite programs take place at our Johnston, Iowa City, or Ames locations. Adaptive equipment, nursing support, and kid-friendly activities are available to children who attend Group Respite.

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Special Programs

Special programs are available based on need. ChildServe’s healthcare professionals can help parents assess which respite services may be the best fit for their child.

  • Group Respite weekends are hosted most Friday through Sunday evenings. Some weekends include nursing support, while others are staffed by trained caregivers.
  • Monthly sleepovers provide time to socialize with peers, play games, have birthday parties, or go to movies.
  • Kids Club and Super Saturdays offer weekend group daytime activities.
  • Teen Night and Teen Day Respite provide opportunities for socialization and community involvement.
  • Camp ChildServe offers summer programs for school-aged children or young adults. Some children attend our weeklong camps, while others attend for the entire summer.
  • Group Respite is also available in a family’s home for families with multiple children who have special healthcare needs.
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ChildServe’s Respite program is accredited by CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities), ensuring that the program meets rigorous guidelines for service and quality, and conforms to nationally and internationally recognized standards.

ChildServe‘s Respite program was recognized by the ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center, as a 2020 Innovative and Exemplary Respite Service. ARCH recognizes ChildServe’s ability to serve to inspire and inform the respite field and the public, and help to build and promote greater respite opportunities for caregivers across the network and nation.

Camp ChildServe is American Camp Association accredited, assuring our compliance with up to 300 health, safety, and program quality standards. The American Camp Association is industry-established and backed by over 100 years of parent trust.

Aedyn’s Story

How can parents of children with special healthcare needs ease their anxiety about leaving their child with someone else? That’s the question Cindy asked herself while searching for respite options for her son, Aedyn.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I refer someone to the ChildServe Respite program?

Parents/guardians, members of the child’s care team, or the child’s case manager may make referrals. To make a referral or request more information, call the following location-specific numbers:


  • Ames: 515-817-2231
  • Iowa City: 319-351-5437
  • Johnston: 515-251-5533
How many hours of respite care can I use each month?
Each child is given a complete assessment in order to develop care plans and authorize a specific number of hours to use each month.
Where do services take place?
Respite services take place year-round in the following locations:

  • ChildServe Respite Center (Ames and Johnston)
  • ChildServe – Iowa City
  • Child’s home or community setting
  • Staff’s home (all other adults in their home must pass a background check)
  • Camp is held at an off-site location in both the Ames and Johnston areas
Is there a daily limit for respite care?

Yes, each type of respite care has a different limit:

  • Group Respite – 24 hours per day
  • 1:1, Basic Respite – 17.75 hours per day
  • 1:1, Specialized Respite – 8.75 hours per day
Can my child receive respite care while I am at work?
No, Respite cannot be used as childcare while both parents are at work. Respite is designed to be a recharging time for parents – not simply a childcare provider.
Can my Respite caregiver also keep an eye on my other children?
No, Respite caregivers may not provide supervision to siblings or other children unless they are all children receiving services through ChildServe via the ID, HD, or BI Medicaid Waivers, and have been scheduled to be supervised at the same time.
How do I schedule Respite services?
Parents can schedule respite care directly with the supervisor or by connecting with your staff/nurse.
Are there limits on when respite care can be scheduled?
While we offer respite services at all times of the day and week, respite care may not interfere with the following:

  • Respite care cannot be provided during school.
  • Respite care cannot overlap or interfere with doctor, therapy, or other appointments if provided through Medicaid funding.

To make a referral or to request additional information, please use the contact form below.

View our Annual Outcomes

ChildServe regularly gathers child and family satisfaction feedback, quality reports, and census data to monitor our services and continuously improve the care and services we provide.

Contact Us!

ChildServe – Ames

1915 Philadelphia Street, Ames, IA 50010

ChildServe – Iowa City

2350 Oakdale Blvd., Coralville, IA 52241

ChildServe – Johnston

5406 Merle Hay Road, Johnston, IA 50131

If you would like to make a referral, or if you have questions for our team, please call the location of your choice or email

ChildServe Center - Johnston

ChildServe Center - Ames

ChildServe – Iowa City


ChildServe improves the health and well-being of more than 5,600 children each year through specialized clinical, home, and community-based programs and services. We serve children with developmental delays, disabilities, injuries, and other special healthcare needs.

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