Adult Life – What Is Available For My Child With Special Needs?
Parents, families, and adults have the same burning question, “What happens when school is over?” In the past, the answer was for the child to continue to live at home with parents or in a group home setting, possibly work part-time at a fast food restaurant, grocery store, pet store or maybe just be able to volunteer a few hours per week. The rest of the time was spent sitting at home. We are beginning to see innovation invade the special needs community in which private enterprises and families are working together with government entities, and service providers to offer more!
I attended multiple sessions at The Arc of North Carolina state conference that focused on this topic. I learned of one organization, Growth Through Opportunity (GTO) that works with police and fire departments, and judges within the court system to place individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) in a specific training course in which they are working side by side with police, firefighters, and court officers on a daily basis learning the skills necessary to live as independently as they possibly can. Their only criteria are the individual has a great attitude, and they are willing to try! This organization has a 90 percent success rate with their graduates finding paid work when they complete their training course. It is a program that is truly innovative…with results!!!
Organizations are also continuing to work on building “live where you work” situations. In Waterloo, Illinois, Human Support Services has purchased a bed and breakfast that will be staffed with individuals with I/DD with help from direct service professionals. Not only will these individuals have work and will serve the visitors to the bed and breakfast, they will also live in the bed and breakfast house. In this scenario, the challenge of transportation to work for adults with I/DD who live in a group home has been solved because they can live where they work. This is not the only bed and breakfast of its kind in the United States, and as they continue to be successful, the numbers of these opportunities will grow.
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Again, these options are not available in all areas, but they are examples of individuals, families, and organizations working together to develop solutions that can work for all involved. It is important that as you create your family’s story and the vision of the life, your loved one wants to live you don’t limit yourselves to only what is currently available, but think larger than that and then prepare for it.
These new opportunities will not always be funded with government benefits, and I suspect as our benefit system continues to be squeezed financially that private funding will be needed. It is critical you continue to build the ropes in your child’s safety net, determine the costs of your child’s lifetime support needs, and then take action to ensure those assets are available by utilizing the proper structure. The proper structure will enable your child to seize opportunities that arise, whether fully supported by the government benefit system, private pay only or a combination of the two!
For more information on how to prepare for the future, be sure to contact a financial advisor who specializes in serving families with special needs. A Special Needs Plan is driven by their purpose of Leading Families to Independence through an on-going multi-generational plan. A Special Needs Plan is passionate about families confidently forward.
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This article was featured in Issue 76 – Raising A Child with Autism