It’s no surprise to anyone that children with special needs require a good number of services, therapies, support systems, equipment, medications and other items that are not consistently covered by certain health insurance plans or government programs they are participating in.
Here are a few tried and true strategies for covering these costs. Not every one will work for a specific family, but even if you can find a few on this list that work, it could save countless dollars, hours of labor, and headaches that come with dealing with these issues on a daily basis.
1. Apply for all possible government programs even if you don’t think you are eligible. Here is a comprehensive, updated overview of temporary Illinois assistance programs for families with limited financial means.
2. Connect to a Child Care Nurse Consultant who assists families of children with special needs and community child care providers to facilitate successful inclusion. Here is a link to the regionally-based Child Care Nurse Consultant directory.
3. Check with your local Illinois Health Department to find public health programs in your community. See if your child (and you) can receive, for example, free or low-cost immunizations, well-child care or other services.
4. In addition to seeking out financial resources specifically related to your child’s medical/disability needs, focus on resources and strategies for your overall family financial situation that may “free up” funds that can then be designated for “special needs expenses”. Visit the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Services “Getting Through Tough Economic Times” website for practical advice and resources.
5. Find other families and share the cost of hiring a support staff person for group respite sessions.
6. Check with your employer, community groups and houses of worship for local grant funding options.
7. Seek out students from local colleges who may be able to get practicum credits while volunteering to learn with your child. Find colleges and universities in your area via the Illinois Board of Higher Education website.
8. Contact local high schools (both public and private) for students seeking community service opportunities.
9. Contact service organizations in your community (boy/girl scouts, houses of worship, fraternal organizations, sororities, alumni associations) for volunteers and fund raising ideas.
10. Accept offers of help from friends and neighbors – make up a list of things they can help with (examples: running errands, rides to appointments, help with chores, respite, babysitting, lawn care, meal preparation, pet care, etc). Keep your list handy when people say “let me know if there’s anything I can do to help”.
Visit our Community Resource Guide for additional resources.