Sunday, August 14, 2011

The "F" Word

If you want to see our politicians run for cover, just mention the F word – FUNDING. The term has become taboo in modern day politics. Everyone wants it but personal interests blur the line between right and wrong. Sadly, the disabled fall on this very thin line. Some say it is due to a lack of understanding, others say it is a lack of appreciation but most agree that it is a lack of empathy.

Besides the obvious disadvantages, this is especially compelling because the ability to earn an income is non-existent. Basic essentials like using a spoon, putting on a pair of pants, and writing a thought you and I take for granted but it is a daily struggle for people with physical and mental disabilities. And to add insult to injury, future funding is on the chopping block.

I thought it only befitting that as a parent of an autistic son, I share my research technique in hopes that I can help families find the funding sources they need. Here's a sure method that works.
Once a qualified professional has diagnosed your relative with a physical and/or mental disability, chances are they will refer you to your local State Human Services or Social services agency for assistance. Receiving assistance from social services is actually a positive step because it can help you qualify for other grants, specifically free grants.

Upon diagnosis, your next step will be to determine what type of aid you and your child/adult need. This is particularly important because some grants will only pay for especific items or needs. Such as, Financial, Respite Care, Daycare, Behavior therapy, Speech therapy or Residential placement. After establishing your specific need, develop a support group; begin by talking to school officials, medical doctors, psychiatrist, social workers, medwaiver coordinators, and other parents. The legwork will prove to be invaluable.

After compiling the information from your support group, do an online search and make a note of contact information to grants relevant to your specific needs (visit your local public library for free computer access - if one is not readily available at your home). Then, be patient because this can be a tedious process.

With this in mind, I decided to put my research process to the test to determine current grant availabilities. This is what I found:

a) Housing grants for individuals with disabilities – contact Housing and Urban Development Center (HUD) and the Rural Housing Service of the US Department of Agriculture

b) Helping Hand for Relief and Development – provides financial assistance to families in need of medical treatment, medical tests, supplements, behavioral therapy for autistic children (note: these moneys to do cover tuition, respite care, security items or entertainment; family yearly income must not exceed $50,000; 2011 funds are exhausted; funds availability resume in 2012 ) or contact

c) Medical Grants by United Healthcare Children’s Foundation (UHC) for children with Autism – They first want you to know that this process may not be an easy one but they encourage families to apply especially if medical health insurance does not cover certain services. This nonprofit charity “is in the form of a medical grant to be used for medical services not covered or not completely covered by commercial health benefit plans” (as written by )

d) Autism Cares – provides support for families with disabilities, specifically autism, during natural disasters and other catastrophic life events. Their mission is to help families pay for living expenses (housing, utilities, day care, etc). Applications are available online. Note: the maximum per family is a onetime support award of $1000.

e) Autism Speaks Baker Summer Camp Program – “has selected eligible camps in the US to identify qualified campers and offer scholarship funds for financially disadvantaged children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to attend a summer camp” (as written - Visit this link for a list of camps that currently receive scholarship funds.

f) ( this site is quite cumbersome and overwhelming. However, you can find a professional grant seeker from one of the nonprofit organizations to do the legwork for you. Nevertheless, if you decide to visit this site here’s how - in the left-navigation pane on the main page, click on Find Grant Opportunities then click on Browse by Category.

This process may be tedious but a necessary one for the betterment of your disabled child or relative. Not to mention, the welcomed relief you will feel once the services are in place.

NOTE OF CAUTION: When searching online for a grant, any grant opportunity, be mindful of scams and fraudulent grants.  Sadly, swindlers are everywhere.  If your search leads you to a site in which the organization, company, or association requires you to pay a fee in advance, close the page, THIS IS A SCAM!  Grants by definition are free. 

Good luck!

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