State Sponsored Programs For Special Needs Individuals
If you have a special needs child, you are always looking for more resources to help manage your child's care and transitions from one stage in life to the next. Most states offer several different programs to help families like yours. Consult with the website of your county's Human Services/Social Welfare Department to see if they offer any of the following programs that can help support you and your child.
Kinship care is a program that provides extra financial support to families who have special needs children or adults caring for other adult family members who are very sick or have physical limitations. It provides funds to families who are financially strapped already, and who do not meet financial requirements from other state and federal programs. Originally developed as a way to help extended family members (e.g., grandparents or aunts and uncles) provide care for children who were not their own but still family, this program has evolved in several ways to help more families cope.
Respite care allows parents of special needs kids some time off from caring for their children. Typically, these parents have no familial supports to help care for the children, and often become quite burnt out psychologically and emotionally from the stressors related to their children's challenges and challenging behaviors. The respite programs vary from state to state, but usually the child either goes to a group home to stay for the weekend, or a licensed/state certified caregiver comes to the family's home and provides the parent(s) a much needed break.
Children who are about to graduate high school and will need to transition from adolescence to adulthood. That means finding a job, finding an apartment, and managing money. It is a major transition from getting up for school, going to school, and coming home to have most things done for you.
There are special departments by county and by state that offer transitional services and programming for your special needs child as you get closer to that milestone. If your child is two years away from graduating high school, you may want to apply for services now as there is often a waiting list for jobs and support staff to help train special needs young adults in the jobs they are either assigned or want to do. There is often a waitlist for transitional housing and special needs state program. (i.e., transitioning from your family's home to an apartment), too.