“Everyone Deserves and Needs a Break Now and Then”

Cassidy enjoys spending time at the Respite House.

By Dawn Todd, Respite House Supervisor

We love our young people who visit the Respite House! Just as important are the families who utilize our services in order to take a much needed break (respite) over an occasional weekend.

We know it is not easy for caregivers to entrust their loved one to our care without worrying or having some anxiety. Sometimes the stress and tension can be seen in the caregiver’s face and body language as they come through the door and proceed with the weekend “check-In.” The amazing part of this journey however, is seeing the caregiver’s “smile and restful look” as they return for “checkout.” The caregivers see all is well with their loved one and how much they have enjoyed their stay away from home. Those same care giving parents/guardians gladly notice the art projects, baked cakes and talks about the singing and dancing, as well as the many other happenings such as playing outside in the park and taking walks along the trails that surround our welcoming “Respite House.” There is a sigh of relief that only proper “respite” could bring month after month of visiting.

Apparently, our true mission becomes clear to our care giving families when they start to realize everyone deserves and needs a break now and then. From the countless cumbersome responsibilities along with the daily draining environment of providing for loved ones with special needs and timely requirements, respite care naturally becomes a win/win. The children/young adults benefit from the mini reprieve while socializing with others who also are creating new and building lasting friendships with each other, and at the same time, their care providers are able to have that well deserved break.

For more information or questions about the Helping Hands Respite Care’s Respite House, please contact our office at 517-372-6671 and ask for Supervisor, Dawn Todd (Ext. #106)

Long-term Planning for Children with Special Needs

Do you have questions about long term planning for children with special needs. Raising a child with special needs can be a challenging and rewarding lifelong task. Day-to-day decisions are carefully considered to determine how it can affect your child. Sometimes, it is easy to get lost in your child’s day-to-day needs and lose sight of the planning necessary to ensure that your child’s future well-being is planned.

One of the first concerns of parents with special needs children is how to protect their child’s eligibility for means-tested government benefits after the parents are no longer able to act as the child’s primary caregiver. Although this answer will always depend on the nature of the circumstances and type of benefits received, the most common answer is a Special Needs Trust.
A Special Needs Trust can be an excellent planning tool to keep your child eligible for government means-tested benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) and Medicaid. In order to continually qualify for these benefits, an income and asset threshold must be met. Federal Law 42 USC 1396(p)(d)(4)(A) allows Special Needs Trusts to hold funds and assets for the benefit of special needs children without risking their eligibility for means-tested benefits.
Special Needs Trusts made pursuant to this federal law are called “D4A” trusts. These D4A Special Needs Trusts can protect eligibility for government means-tested benefits because these trusts, unlike ordinary trusts, are not considered “countable assets” with respect to benefit programs’ income and asset threshold calculation.
It is important to note that only a parent, guardian, or grandparent can create a D4A trust – the beneficiary of the trust cannot create it themselves. When beginning to plan or create a Special Needs Trust on behalf of a child, careful consideration should be given to how the trust will be funded and who should act as its trustee for the benefit of the special needs child.
The above is not as complicated as it may seem, and any questions regarding the long-term planning for a special needs child can be answered with the helpful counsel of an attorney.
This information prepared for your benefit by David J. Elmore of J.K. Winters, P.C.