The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly caused hardships in many areas of society, and the disability community is no different. As with many other businesses, the shutdowns and social distancing have highlighted the financial razor’s edge many service providers live on.
In a survey of 191 organizations conducted by ANCOR, a trade group representing disability service providers, 77% appear to have either shut down programs or shut down completely and many are not expecting to come back. “If you look at the average losses in July , what business can sustain a $200,000, $300,000, $400,000 loss? It’s not as bad as April, but it’s still not good,” said Donna Martin, Director for State Partnerships and Special Projects at ANCOR.
Most of these closures have occurred among adult day programs and employment services. Due to social distancing requirements they cannot serve as many individuals, therefore revenue decreases and the need for Personal Protective Equipment have seen their costs rise. State and Federal aid assistance has helped but that money is drying up. Unfortunately, these adults have nowhere else to go except to stay at home which is adding an extra responsibility on families. Families must make another sacrifice which can mean the loss of an income in order to stay at home and keep their loved ones safe.
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The impact of COVID-19 illustrates that change can happen very quickly and that, without proper governmental support, the programs families rely on can disappear. This situation highlights the importance of planning for families. It is critical to understand the macroeconomic risks that can trickle down to impact the daily life of an individual with a disability. The funding streams that come with qualification of government benefits is one of those risks.
Most families rely on some form of government benefit support to fund their child’s lifetime needs, which they should; however, it is imperative families have a plan in place to step in if government benefits are reduced. As part of your plan, please ensure you calculate your child’s lifetime financial support need with government benefits, and then with a reduction in government benefits. After you calculate those two scenarios, you will then be able to determine the best way to fund his/her future needs. Remember, funding your child’s future rarely happens immediately; instead, it is a gradual process that happens over time.
This article was featured in Issue 113 – Transitioning to Adulthood