Sunday, February 12, 2012

Grants, Financial Assistance and More!

So to my long long list of things to do I had added the need to apply for all sorts of grants, savings plans, and financial assitance in relation to Alistair having a disability. I'm so happy to say I've ALMOST got all these things applied for or underway... which is a BIG goal of mine before bambino numero dos comes along! Its amazing how much is out there for one to access. However, I know so many families that haven't accessed them due to the fact that their situation is so overwhelming that it just feels like it may tip things over the edge if they even attempt to get any of it underway. I have to admit you look at the checklist...... as they all have checklists of things that must get completed prior to sending the application on and it is overwhelming as it adds a whole other list of things one has to do in order to acquire this information...... ie make a doctors appt, go to the doc appt, requesting forms, returning and picking up the ya it doesn't sound like a great deal unless you already feel maxed with all the other appts your squeezing in your day on top of the physio, speech, feeding issues, communication enhancement, etc that you work on on a daily basis and wonder why you are starting to feel a tad wiggy as you haven't gotten yourself out of the house! Anyhow I think I can say thanks to my nursing program as it taught me to prioritize and attack things one at a time in order to eventually accomplish finished tasks. Soooo after that long winded note to pat myself on the back I thought I'd share some of the things I've accessed and acquired as I find these things are not just laid out in front of you when you find out that your child can benefit from such takes communicating with others in your similar situation, finding out what they have accessed or not, picking the brains of the professionals around you, and just a whole heck of a lot of digging...So if any of you are in the same boat as me perhaps some of these links and info I give you may help reduce the search and overwhelming thought of acquiring or at least applying for some of these extremely beneficial supports that may be available to you. I'll also share you my philosophy on some of it as I can basically justify absolutely anything if I can find a way to make it beneficial to me and get my butt motivated... so here we go....
  • Giving In Action Society ~ This society provides grants to families living in the province of British Columbia. It enables families to stay together by addressing accessibility issues in their homes and communities. They will help with providing up to $25,000 towards a wheelchair accessible vehicle and up to $50,000 towards making your home accessible for your child- including lifts, elevators, ramps, flooring, and door widening.
  • Melody from PG Surg Med ~ Melody has experience in modifying vehicles for increased accessibility and has a wealth of information in applying for funding, various modifications, and working with families to help them find a perfect fit for their needs. She serves everywhere North of 100 Mile House in BC.
  • Registered Disability Savings Plan This is a savings plan to help parents and others save for the long-term financial security of a person who is eligible for the disability tax credit. From my perspective this is one thing you should really put an effort into acquiring if you or your child is eligible as it is incredible how much money the government will put into the RDSP to match your funds. Basically, they will put up to $70,000 of Grant money in the account over the lifetime and $20,000 of Bonds over a life time. To open a RDSP, a person must be approved for the Disability Tax Credit, be a resident of Canada, have a Social Insurance Number, and be under the age of 60 years. Every major bank can open an RDSP and all have a different method to support you in doing so. For instance, at Scotiabank I found they had little if no information at the bank but there was a phone number to call and they could do the whole process over the phone. I attached the Bank of Montreal website as to me it provided the least complicated description/explanation of what the RDSP is, how it can grow, and what amounts the goverment will put into the account in relation to your income and financial input. I could go on forever about this plan but I'll let you read it. However, if you have questions let me know and I'll try to help simplify it for you as it can be a tad confusing at first. O and one last thing if your income is below a certain amount you don't have to put anything into the account and it will still grow!
  • Endowment 150 Vancouver Foundation Many people with disabilities struggle to save for their future. To help those who want to save, Endowment 150 offers a one-time $150 gifts to holders of the Registered Disability Savings Plans (RDSP) in BC. You have to have the RDSP set up and then you have a very simple form to fill out and attach proof that you've put in $25 into the RDSP already and they'll send you a cheque to add to your growing RDSP.
  • President's Choice Children's Charity This charity is dedicated to helping children Canada wide who are physically or developmentally disabled. Their aim is to remove some of the obstacles that make everyday living extremely difficult and make it easier for the child or family to cope with the disability. They provide direct financial assistance in the purchase of mobility equipment,wheelchair accessible modifications, physical therapy and more. One main factor with this charity is you have to have a gross family income of less than $70,000. The maximum grant amount is $20,000 and I've heard but can not find it in writing anywhere that one can reapply to this Charity every five years where as many other charities have a once a lifetime clause.
  • Variety Club Variety provides
    financial assistance for children who have special needs, with the costs of a
    wide range of equipment, therapies, educational, social and recreational
  • Toyota Mobility Assistance Program Helps cover the costs of installing adaptive driving aids or mobility assistance equipment, the Toyota Mobility Program offers up to a $1,000 allowance to physically-challenged customers who acquire a new or eligible Toyota vehicle.
  • The Tiny Lights Foundation This foundation is super wonderful and is a non profit organization that provides professional photography for children and families that have been faced with a life altering diagnoses. They provide families with the lasting memories through the amazing art of photography. With the help of many photographers throughout Canada they are able to provide families with photos they can share and help carry the many memories and it doesn't cost a penny. One thing to note with this foundation is they offer two photo sessions if your child is still in hospital. I have yet to take advantage of this great foundation but I've heard nothing but good things. The application process is simple. Your child must be under the age of 18. They contact you within a couple of weeks. Plus I've heard they do the photo shoot where you find it the most convenient ie. the park, your home, your front yard,.....

So a few of my opinions to go with all the above:

  • Let the foundations and charities make the decision whether you deserve the support...don't assume you won't get it. I meet the most incredible moms out there whose children are higher needs yet they haven't applied as they "don't feel right" applying for some of these grants etc as "there are so many families worse off then us". Let the foundations and charities make that decision! The other thing is if you do acquire financial support for your kids and it allows you to provide them a better level of care which enhances their overall progression or provides your family unit with a greater level of support you are not only doing your child and family a huge favour but the community and tax payer also reap the benefits in the long run as you may reduce the "burden" on the health care system down the road.
  • I find and have heard that families always like to put their children on a pedestal.....don't we all! When applying for a grant or charity this is not the time to tell them your childs absolute best abilities or accomplishments. I'm not saying to lie at all. I'm just saying you don't want to be writing your childs best accomplishment that may have occured once or twice a month yet there is no consistency to them. You want to tell your childs daily norms. We all love to say how perfect our children are but this is not the time!
  • When attacking these forms, pretend that your going to get all the money you're applying for. Then divide that amount into the number of items you need to check off the list. For instance, if there are 10 items you must accomplish in order to get the grant in the mail and you could potentially get $20,000 from this grant. Then every time you check off something on that list you have potentially acquired $2,000 in support for your child. Now is that not incentive or what. Even if it takes you a year to complete the blooming application you're still doing really well!

Well if any of you are reading this and know of other great opportunites out there for us to access please share...even if its not for BC perhaps someone on the otherside of the country ...or another country will benefit from your posts. ~ Happy Hand Cramps! ~ Julie

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