Adult day care centers, also known as adult day services, or adult day health services have been providing a form of respite for care givers for more than thirty years. In 1978 there were only 300 centers nationwide. By the 1980s there were 2100 centers, and today there are more than 4000 centers nationwide, according to the National Adult Day Services Association (NADSA). The proliferation of adult day care centers over the past two decades corresponds to the mushrooming demand for home and community based services. With this increasing demand for community care alternatives, adult day care centers are becoming a preferred choice of care.

The growth is due in part to new funding sources such as Medicaid waiver programs, which support alternatives to institutional long-term care and rehabilitation. Much available data suggests that many of the individuals served by adult day care centers today would have been institutionalized just twenty years ago.