In the last post, we mentioned the ‘aging out’ problem — wherein, at 21 years of age, the Federal funding that supported a child with special needs suddenly stops cold. That’s not the only money problem that crops up around a young adult with special needs (YASN). There’s also the problem of trying to pay for their first opportunity to live away from their parents. There are three broad categories of funding sources, and we’ll take a look at each in detail.
Self-Funding: The Default
If no other funding can be found, the family of a YASN will have to choose between keeping their now-adult with special needs at home, or finding the funds within their own lives. That might seem impossible for some, but there are many potential places to look, including:
• Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI),
• Credit unions,
• Private insurance,
• Special Needs Trusts,
• Individual Development Accounts (IDAs),
• Pooled trusts, and
• Tax Credits, among others.
There also exists a commonplace ‘hybrid’ funding technique in many places: cooperative funding. When several families pool their resources, it becomes much easier to purchase a collectively-owned home and allow one or more YASNs from each family to move in and live independently but with support from one another and from their respective families. If someone among the participating families has business experience or nonprofit experience, the cooperative funding model can take on a legitimate aspect, forming a legal co-op and/or trust to care for the YASNs moving forward.
Community Funding: Rare, But Powerful
Some communities — not necessarily geographical communities, with the advent of the Internet — have surprisingly powerful and well-funded groups that can help you obtain funding that a family couldn’t hope to obtain on their own. Such groups can often negotiate with companies or address aspects of the government that individuals can’t, and thus obtain funding for YASNs that would otherwise have to remain at home.
Government Funding: The HUD’s Labyrinth
There’s not a lot that can be said about the myriad of programs put forth by the Department of Housing and Urban Development except that you need either an experienced social worker or a dedicated expert to navigate the maze and actually end up with a meaningful amount of money at the far end.
Paying For Ongoing Expenses: Just Like Everyone Else
Of course, all of those previous entries are just to address the costs of getting into a situation where a situation where a YASN can live out of their parents’ home. None of them offer any help for those who have already ‘launched’ — those lucky ones will have to SSI payments, the programs available at Disability.gov/benefits, and the programs available at Benefits.gov to help them make ends meet. Of note, SNAP and LIHEAP are both very commonplace programs for YASNs to take advantage of, and they’re fairly easy to qualify for and use.