Posted by Anara Midgett on 3:18 PM
There's a unique kind of powerlessness attached to not having the money to meet your child's needs. For me, it's very similar to the way I feel about watching babies and children endure illnesses and medical procedures. Yes, life is not fair, but these are our children's lives and futures. As parents, I wish we all had the blessing of saying "go for it, whatever it takes." But since that's not reality, it's important for us to know where we can turn for help when our personal resources aren't enough.
Examples of expenses that you can request financial assistance for are eyeglasses, adaptive car seats, compression garments, and speech therapy. Some agencies will pay a utility bill. Get your paperwork together - original bills, paycheck stubs, notes from hospitals or physicians. The paperwork can be overwhelming, but it's worth it.
Most of these foundations need donations, so if you are in a position to help please remember them. When your life levels out, see if you can support them with a local fundraiser.
If you apply for any of these grants, please come back and share your experience so we can all learn together. I have not had the time to research limits and eligibility requirements for each of these links, so if you find out information that might help other able2able readers in their search for help, please post a comment.
Aid for Autistic Children Foundation's board and an independent consumer credit counseling service will evaluate your application and assist with debt relief. They deal directly with lien holders or carriers of your debt to "target the financial burden the family deems most obstructive in allowing them to focus solely on giving their autistic loved one the best tools and skills for a productive life in today's society".
AutismCares helps families affected by autism cover costs associated with critical living expenses such as housing, utilities, car repair, daycare, funeral expenses, and other essential items on a case-by-case basis.
Challenged America "The Challenged America Website is a medium through which disadvantaged, physically challenged children (or their parents) submit requests for medical attention, rehabilitative therapy and/or assistive devices they would otherwise be unable to obtain. The benefits to the children go far beyond the physical. Assistance from Challenged America can improve their quality of life, help them gain confidence and self-esteem, and ease their reentry into the community."
Disabled Children's Relief Fund considers themselves a "last resort" to help disabled children with inadequate insurance coverage to "obtain wheelchairs, orthopedic braces, walkers, lifts, hearing aids, eyeglasses, medical equipment, physical therapy, and surgery."
First Hand Foundation provides individual grants Internationally and in the US. They can help you with expenses related directly to your child (or an adult who is as dependent as a child) if your insurance will not provide coverage.
Helping Hand: Financial Aid for Autism Families is a program through the National Autism Association. "The Helping Hand Program provides families with financial assistance in getting necessary biomedical treatments, supplements and therapy services for their autistic child. Do not apply for this grant if you are seeking funds for respite care, fencing, trampolines, swingsets, trips to Disney World, etc. This program is only for parents in DIRE financial need." 2010 applications for funds will be available in June.
Lend4Health "Lend4Health is a non-profit that facilitates community-funded, interest-free micro-loans as a creative funding option for individuals and groups seeking optimal health. Currently, Lend4Health is facilitating loans for the "biomedical" treatment of children and adults with autism spectrum and related disorders."
The M.O.R.G.A.N Project provides small individual assistance grants for children's medical products and services, as well as for parents/caregivers to attend medical conferences. They will give grants to help with needs not covered by Medicaid and private insurance. They are accepting applications for 2010 from May 5th through August 5th, 2010. Additional resources are available through their site.
Neighbor Heart Quality of Life Grants are for "families that care for children and adults with autism and other special needs. These grants provide families with stipends that may be used for a wide variety of supports related to their family member." There is also a statement on Neighbor Heart's homepage expressing an immediate need for donations and volunteers as currently the requests for help are exceeding their resources. If you are able to make a donation, no matter how small, please do so today!
United Healthcare Children's Foundation provides individual grants for medical-related services and products, but only to individuals with private insurance. There is a list of excluded services and excluded insurance carriers on their website.
Your local Children's Hospital. By local, I mean your closest, even if it is 8 hours away and your child has never been seen there. Call and ask to speak to a Social Worker, Case Manager, or Discharge Planner (title might vary). Ask if they have a list of local agencies that provide financial assistance to families with Special Needs children. Be specific in what you need - for example, some states have grant money and can provide free Augmentative Communication Devices for your child.
When Clara-Bear was in the hospital for a month and neither DH nor myself could work, we humbled ourselves to ask all of our local friends if their church had a fund to help families in our situation. We were blessed by two churches we had never attended. One provided money for bills, another helped with bills and a Sunday School class adopted us. Strangers brought us regular meals for weeks. It was a life changing experience for our family.
Services and regs for Early Intervention programs vary by state. Ages served also vary - some states have moved beyond birth to three and are offering services to age five. Some states have free services, some charge copays on a sliding scale. Not only was our EI provider an amazing source of information and support, they also had loaner equipment. Some states have EI under the Department of Human Services.
Service organizations might be able to provide money towards needed medical equipment or to help with bills. Examples are Knights of Columbus, Rotary Club, the Shriners, Kiwanis International, and Veterans' Groups.
Don't be too quick to give up on Social Security Disability. It took over 8 hours and almost 100 pages of medical records to get Clara-Bear approved, then another agent took over and we had to re-prove ourselves. But one eye opener happened during my initial phone consultation. The agent initially said we had too many resources in the form of a small 401k, then she double checked with her supervisor who explained the difference between our resources and Clara-Bear's resources. Regs vary by state. There are many companies out there charging to do the work for you, it was a hassle but I found it something I could do on my own.
United Cerbral Palsy is a resource for all disabilities, not just CP. They do have an individual grant program, ask your local office for an application.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has links to a variety of financial resources that affect family life and health. Many programs (but not all) do require that you meet the definition of poverty, but this definition varies by state so check everything before you assume your family does not qualify.
United Way might not give money directly to individuals, but they do fund local agencies that can! United Way funded agencies might have money to help with utilities, home repair, transportation, etc.. Find your local United Way office by entering your zip code into the upper right hand corner of the homepage. United Way also sponsors "Days of Caring" every year, where they recruit local volunteers to help with service projects. They helped to build a deck onto the back of our house because Clara-Bear did not have a safe, level place for therapy and play and we are housebound so much.
I am beginning a list of state and county services - feel free to post a comment if you have an important link to add.
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