Being paid to be a special needs parent
(The Special Life)
I was recently struck by an ad for foster parent to provide therapeutic care for special needs children.
Here is exactly what I read:
Parents are needed to provide therapeutic foster care for special-needs children. The agency provides training and 24-hour support/supervision by professional staff and a monthly tax-free stipend of $900 per child."
I've taken the liberty of putting some information in bold.
As a natural parent of special needs children, I'm agog with envy. Bear in mind that I don't begrudge the parents who answer this ad one penny. However, I can't help but be struck by dramatic difference in support for natural vs. foster parents.
The reality is that if you have a special needs child, it is very difficult to work. Your time will be spent taking care of the child, researching therapy options, arranging and attending therapy sessions, and of necessity, researching and arranging funding options for the equipment and therapy you'll need.
Then of course, there are all the hidden additional costs, like special food or preparation equipment, diapers, extra clothing, travel and parking to all the doctor and therapy appointments, special cups, spoons, forks, special toys, computer equipment, special software, and so on and so on. It feels never-ending, and it is absolutely exhausting - physically, mentally and emotionally.
But, surprise! Just as your ability to work takes a nosedive, your financial expenses skyrocket (along with your stress levels).
For the most part, we're generally left to our own devices to figure things out - what to do, and how to pay for it.
For these 'lucky' foster parents, they'll get 24 hour support AND financial assistance right up front.
If the world made sense, we would have set up or social support systems to provide support and financial aid to all families with special need kids - right up front. Nobody benefits from the endless paperwork that needs to be completed, submitted and approved, over and over again.
While I won't hold my breath waiting for comprehensive support for families with special need kids, I do know that there are a number of improvements that could be made almost immediately.
Here's my advice to agencies that support special needs families.
* Once a family has been approved by one key agency, use the acceptance confirmation letter as your approval confirmation as well.
* Provide access to trained support staff throughout the day. One of the key factors in making 'regular' work impossible is the need to be available during the day to attend doctor and therapy appointments. By routinely offering evening and weekend appointments, you may free up a parent's time to be able to work.
* Eliminate the need for annual re-submitting of the same information. Once a child has a disability, it doesn't just go away.
* Recognize that the parents financial abilities will be stressed and offer free services wherever possible. (in other words, put the onus for fundraising on the 'normal' population, not the special needs family.)
... Now that I've started I could go on and on.
What are your thoughts?
Please contact us and share your thoughts. I'll collect ideas and create a specific page to share ideas between parents and support professionals.
p.s. In case you were wondering, the ad I made note of above came from the Ashbury Park Press in Neptune, New Jersey, USA. Click on the link below to see where the ad appeared.
Who knows you may even want to apply!
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