Finding Funds for Home Modifications and Handicap Accessible Vehicles
We’ve recently received a number of questions from our Facebook family about funding assistance, such as “How do you go about getting modification money for homes for people that are wheelchair bound?” and “How do I get an accessible van grant?” Here we take a look at some options and give some direction on searching for others.
Raising a child with cerebral palsy involves many changes to our lives, not the least of which are home and vehicle modifications. For many, these changes can pose a significant financial challenge that can go far beyond frustration. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to reach out for some much-needed assistance in providing for your child’s needs.
Vehicle Funding Resources
CPFN has previously covered selecting a wheelchair-accessible van; discussing whether to go new or used, the difference between tie-downs or chair mounts, etc. But now we’d like to go over getting a bit of help with the cost of those vehicles.
If you need assistance in buying an accessible van, you’ll be happy to know that most states offer various grants and other assistance programs for those who qualify. These incentives help families finance wheelchair vans, scooters, wheelchair lifts, adaptive driving equipment, or other mobility products. Simply search for your state’s Vocational Rehabilitation Department (each state has its own name for this, so you may have to play with your search terms a bit).
The Mobility Resource is a huge help, with their list of rebates and reimbursements, as well as a database of state-specific disability grant resources. The site can also help you sell your old van and connect you with resources to purchase a new vehicle and modifications.
Special Kids Fund Children’s Charity is a unique non-profit group caring for developmentally disabled children and at-risk youth nationwide. Their Magic Mobility Wheelchair Van Assistance Program helps needy families nationwide access handicap vans for their disabled family member. They provide help for children, adults and disabled veterans.
Wheelchairs 4 Kids is another non-profit organization that provides wheelchairs, home and vehicle modifications, and other assistive and therapeutic devices for children that have limited mobility due to illness, accident or abuse. Their goal is to allow all kids a chance to participate in life fully.
Funding Home Modifications for Children with Cerebral Palsy
Most homes are not ideally suited to the needs of a family that includes a child with cerebral palsy. Depending upon the severity of the CP, even routine daily tasks can require special equipment, or something as simple as wider doorways to accommodate a wheelchair or walker.
To determine what type of modifications a specific home needs, parents can contact a physical or occupational therapist to evaluate the home and provide advice regarding how and where to get modification services and training on how to use modified equipment.
Remember that your child’s needs will change over time and future needs should be considered when deciding on modifications for your home. An experienced home modification contractor should have helpful suggestions.
The National Directory of Home Modification and Repair Resources is one helpful resource. It provides home modification and repair resources (such as featured programs, funding, service providers, and consumer materials) for each state!
Government Home Modification Grants and Funding
If you have concerns regarding the cost of home modifications, know that there are federal, state and local organizations and resources that can provide financial assistance to help with some or all of your needs.
Medicaid Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) offers assistance through a waiver program, and reimbursements for home modifications will ‘sometimes’ be considered under this waiver program. The details and requirements vary a bit from state to state. If your child is a Medicaid recipient, contact your state’s Department of Health and Human Services for more information. In some states, Medicaid Waiver programs will pay for home modifications (widening doorways, evening floors, wheelchair ramps, walk-in bathtubs, etc.).
If your child is in a Medicaid Waiver Home Aide Program, ask your caseworker for a list of other benefits available through the program. Currently, these programs are available in 27 states.
Disability home aide programs are called different things in different states. They may be called “Medicaid Waiver”, “IHSS” or “Home and Community Based Services” or something along those lines.
Some states offer Assistive Technology Loan Programs to help residents with disabilities and their families qualify for low-interest loans to buy equipment that will help them live, work, and learn more independently.
Another option for parents seeking resources for their child with disabilities is to connect with local Centers for Independent Living (CIL) in their area. Designed and operated by individuals with disabilities, Centers for Independent Living (CILs) provide independent living services for people with all types of disabilities. These organizations are devoted to bringing accessibility to public and private spaces, and many also have programs to help fund home modifications. Find the local Centers for Independent Living (CILs) in your state here.
Check with your state’s Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD). Some states offer a special program to assist residents with disabilities in modifications such as ramps, lifts, widened doorways, accessible kitchens, bathrooms with assistive technology devices, and other alterations.
Private Funding Resources
Rebuilding Together®, from AmeriCorps, helps many groups of people build new homes or modify existing ones. They provide critical repairs, accessibility modifications and energy efficient upgrades to low-income homes and community centers at no cost to service recipients. They pride themselves on working with families who have one or more members living with a disability to repair or modify homes to make them safer and more accessible. Local Rebuilding Together affiliates complete nearly 10,000 projects per year. Find your local affiliate for more information about specific requirements.
Ramps.org maintains a list of the numerous charitable programs and institutions across the country that help to build accessibility ramps for those without the means to afford it themselves. These organizations offer both funding and building services.
Local community service organizations such as Kiwanis, Lions Club, Elks, and Knights of Columbus often offer programs to assist with funding and/or services to assist people in the community with home repairs. Also speak to your local businesses and churches. You’ll be surprised how supportive your community can be when they know there’s a need.
Another helpful non-profit is the Cerner Charitable Foundation. Cerner (formerly First Hand) provides funding for children whose families cannot afford medical care, equipment, vehicle modifications, or displacement related to care. Cerner accepts case grant applications for medical needs from the United States and through select international providers.
Giving Angels Foundation exists to assist special needs children from lower income families with a physical disability aged 21 years or younger throughout the United States. The Foundation awards grants to lower income families to enhance the everyday life of the child. Applications are accepted throughout the year and voting on applications happens once per month.
Variety of the United States is another non-profit that can assist with grants and funding assistance. Variety’s Freedom Program delivers vital life-changing equipment and services for mobility, independence and social inclusion to individual children and children’s organizations. Variety has chapters throughout the US. To find out if you qualify to receive help from Variety – The Children’s Charity, please contact your local chapter directly.
Community fundraising, also known as crowdfunding, is another possible resource. Many families have realized success with crowdfunding campaigns such as GoFundMe and Help Hope Live to hold community fundraising events involving friends, family and neighbors to help cover the costs of uncovered medical expenses.
Pursuing a Legal Claim
While the great majority of cerebral palsy diagnoses are considered congenital, meaning the child was born the condition, many children every year suffer cerebral palsy that was completely preventable. The Cerebral Palsy Family Lawyers at Janet, Janet & Suggs have helped thousands of these families, recovering compensation that will take care of their children for life. If you believe your child’s cerebral palsy was caused by medical errors, contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
Also check out this extremely informative blog by a mother of a special needs child. She writes of her family’s experience and provides step by step instructions on how they secured funding for multiple home modification projects.