Families with special needs have an individual with disabilities—whether it is a child or other loved one. Families with special needs face unique challenges and require specialized support and resources to help them navigate their journey. This support can come in many different forms and is dependent on each specific family and its unique circumstances. In this article, we’ll look at some of the most important resources for families with special needs.
Important Resources That Families With Special Needs Should Know About
Knowing what resources and services are available is particularly important for families of individuals with disabilities, particularly those with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). There are currently over 7.3 million people in the United States living with IDD, which means that there are many families and loved ones assisting individuals with IDD. Understanding the critical resources that are available to these families can help them get the support they need and ultimately improve the individual’s quality of life. Here are some of the most critical resources available to families with special needs:
- Financial Support – Financial support is critical for families with special needs, as they often face significant expenses related to their loved one’s care and support. This can include medical expenses, therapy, assistive technology, tools, and equipment, and more. Sometimes family members may have to give up their jobs in order to care for an individual with disabilities full-time, which can lead to further financial strain. Here are some of the most useful financial resources available to help families with special needs:
- Medicaid – Medicaid is a federal and state program that provides health coverage and can help families with special needs access critical medical services, therapies, and equipment.
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – SSDI and SSI are two federal programs that are similar to Medicaid and provide financial assistance to eligible individuals with disabilities or their family members.
- Tax Credits – There are also several tax credits available to families with special needs, including the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, the Adoption Tax Credit, the Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled, or the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
- Emotional Support – Caring for a loved one with disabilities can also result in high levels of stress and emotional strain for other family members, which can negatively impact their mental health and overall well-being. That’s why it’s essential for families to have access to emotional support resources in order to help them cope with the unique challenges they face. Here are some of the best options:
- Support Groups – Support groups provide a safe and supportive environment where family members can connect with others who are going through similar experiences. These groups can help families feel less isolated and provide an opportunity for them to share their experiences and offer support to one another. The type of support group you search for may depend on the specific disability of your loved one, but searching for local Autism, Cerebral Palsy, or Brain Injury Alliance support groups in your area is a good start! If you are struggling to find a support group in your area, consider reaching out to local nonprofit organizations that help individuals with disabilities and see if they can help you find one.
- Mental Health Services – Mental health services—such as counseling and therapy—can also provide family members of an individual with disabilities with the emotional support they need to manage stress and anxiety. Counselors and therapists can allow a safe space to talk through feelings, as well as offering advice, coping strategies, and additional resources.
- State-Specific Resources – The first step in accessing critical resources usually involves working with a state agency or program focused on helping individuals and families with disabilities. For example, the New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities assures the opportunity for individuals with developmental disabilities to receive quality services and supports, participate meaningfully in their communities, and exercise their right to make choices. Working with a similar division in your state is a crucial step toward accessing the resources and care your loved one needs.
These are some of the most important resources for families with special needs. However, there are still more resources out there, and the ones your particular family needs will depend on your unique loved one with disabilities. Access to these resources can help improve the quality of life for families and their loved ones, and provide them with the support they need to thrive.
At New Concepts for Living (NCFL), our mission is to serve individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and it is the fundamental force that makes us the premier community for adults with IDD in New Jersey. We are committed to caring for and nurturing adults challenged with special needs so they can attain their highest level of wellness, independence, and achievement. This includes supporting them and their families with the resources they need to be successful and live long, fulfilling lives.
Our meticulously maintained homes and caring staff enable us to provide the highest level of service for the individuals we care for. We also work to continuously improve our services and homes in order to provide the best care for our residents now and in the future, like our new medically fragile homes opening up, which use things like ceiling lift track systems.
In addition, NCFL has an Adult Achievement Center Day Program that offers the most robust and diverse calendar of activities for those we serve. We understand that a busy and productive life is the key to leading a fulfilling life and promoting mental health.
We recognize the need for quality services for every extraordinary individual in northern New Jersey and are committed to expanding. NCFL is currently building new community residences (group homes) in Old Tappan, Mahwah, Hillsdale, and Upper Saddle River—as well as planning to open a larger Day Program Facility in 2023—and is dedicated to finding ways to further expand and grow to better serve our community! You can learn more about the work we do, make a donation to support our mission, contact us for more information, or request placement for a loved one today!