As I read on-line, I continue to see the services in so many states being reduced or in danger of being reduced due to frozen budgets or reduced budgets. For instance, in California more than $1 billion was cut from the Department of Developmental Services, and it has not come back yet, while from 2004 – 2014 the population needing services has increased 37%. These funding issues have forced group homes to close (meaning people don’t have a place to live), work programs to stop, and reduced staff at service providers. We see these situations in community after community, but yet the populations of individuals with Special Needs is expected to grow. What are we to do as parents who worry about what will happen to my child when I can’t care for him?
Thank you for your question and your comments. You are correct that our government system is overloaded with expenses and not enough revenue to provide services to all people. For example, at the federal government level it is expected that Social Security Disability payments will be slashed by 20% to most recipients in 2016 due to lack of funds in the Disability Trust fund. All families are in a position where it is very feasible that government support for our children will be permanently reduced in the future and the financial burden will be placed on families.
As we look at the demographics of the increased population of the Special Needs Community combined with the trend of reduction in government support it becomes more and more critical for families to have specifically-designed plan that fits your family. These plans certainly include all the necessary legal documents (wills, Special Needs Trust, Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney), but goes far beyond that in providing your child’s Caregiving Manual to the next Caregiver, Housing Plan with options, explanation of daily life, and a comprehensive Special Needs Financial Plan (including Tax Strategy) so you can determine how best to pay for the support your child needs. The other portion of this plan is to have a family meeting with extended family and friends in order to build a natural support community for your child. It is imperative that, as much as you can, your son is in the community, has social opportunities so that he is prepared to function within the natural support community without you. The natural support community will take time to develop, and will most likely be slow and challenging; however, will be a great advantage to your son. A Special Needs Planner, service providers in your area, community groups, and your family will be able to work together in creating that natural support community.
I know that this type of planning can sound daunting because you may not know where to start. I suggest you find a professional who helps families like yours with this specific type of planning. These type of planners are few and far between, and you may not be able to find one in your local area but begin your search. At A Special Needs Plan, we have a complimentary resource guide to help you with interview questions as you speak with professionals to determine if they have the expertise necessary to reduce the worry you have about your son’s future when you are no longer able to care for him. There is also an on-line course that is designed to help you organize your plan and your thoughts, step by step. That course can also be a good start. It is located at www.HowToSecureTheFuture.com.
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 what they call Unleash L.I.F.E.™- L.I.F.E. meaning Lasting Independence For Everyone™. This is accomplished with education, action, and support in the creation, implementation, and continued monitoring of a specifically designed lifelong and integrated plan for your family: parents, caregivers, your loved one with special needs and their siblings.
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Charlotte, NC 28210
This article was featured in Issue 38 – Keeping ASD Kids Healthy