Children with cerebral palsy (CP) will likely need assistance for a lifetime. That makes a Life Care Plan an important tool, because it details the unique physical and financial needs of your child’s situation.
Before we received our verdict or settlement for birth injuries, the judge ordered a Life Care Plan. This helps the judge or jury decide on how much money the family should receive to take care of your child for life, whether it’s for everyday needs like diapers or for long-term needs such as education and major surgeries.
Sometimes when people hear about a lot of money from a lawsuit, they think the parents get it all at once. In fact, the money is given over the child’s lifetime and can only be used for resources that will benefit the child. If a verdict or settlement is awarded, the money goes into a Special Needs Trust, administered by a trustee. This trust will cover those expenses not covered by public funds, such as Social Security or Medicaid.
Even if a lawsuit is not involved, Life Care Planning is a valuable tool for families. The social worker at the hospital where your child was born, or a family attorney, should be able to refer you to a qualified life care planner. Be aware that your insurance company also employs life care planners, but that it would be best that you find your own. Make sure whoever you use is a Certified Life Care Planner. This person must be knowledgeable about your child’s injury, understand the long-term effects of that injury and know your financial situation. He or she works with your child’s doctors, nurses and rehabilitation specialists to create a plan that is specific to your child.
All parents of special needs children also need to work with an attorney to have legal documents in place for when the parents may no longer be able to serve as the primary care givers. These documents, such as advance directives and durable powers of attorney, designate who will take over guardianship of the child or adult and what kind of financial resources have been set aside for their care.