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Throughout the 1960s, there was an increasing, though still very limited focus on support to families. By and large, this took the form of diagnostic services, guidance and information.

Out of home respite also emerged. In Connecticut, for instance, a new system of admissions to residential services was developed.

This allowed parents to maintain guardianship while their sons and daughters (children and adults) were admitted to state facilities for a short period of time. Short term admissions were available from 24 hours to 6 months. Families could take vacations.

Individuals could be evaluated on a short term basis for semi-independent living. Families could weather a time of high stress.

By the end of the 1960s, respite care was understood to include the following:

  • Homemaker services – a qualified, trained person comes into the home to provide temporary care. Demonstration projects for homemaker services and Home Training Specialist services were funded by Health, Education and Welfare (Children's Bureau and Division of Mental Retardation).
  • Nursing services – typically through Visiting Nurse Associations or public health departments, nurses provide limited medical or nursing care to individuals and train family members in methods of self-help, nutrition and habilitation techniques.
  • Qualified baby-sitting services – local parent groups sponsor intensive training programs offered by professionals.
  • Out of home services – foster homes, temporary-care homes, family-group homes (4-6 people living with a family), group homes (seven to twelve people) with paid staff support, halfway houses, specialized nursing facilities, and state residential facilities.
Child making cookies with assistance of adult
Photo courtesy William Bronston, M.D.