A loving parent once said to us, "The birth of a child with disabilities will probably change the course, but the destination is the same: creating opportunities for our children, and providing long-term security for our families."
Some parents may have known about their child's special needs in advance of the birth, but regardless of how much advance notice we receive, we are never quite prepared. Whatever the cause, whether or not there are answers, you still have a new baby to cherish.
Just as every child is unique, the way each parent approaches their planning is unique. Below are a few basic planning points that are unique in planning for your child from birth to age 3. (These steps are in addition to the comprehensive Planning Points outlined in our book, The Special Needs Planning Guide: How to Prepare for Every Stage of Your Child's Life.)
~ Ask your pediatrician about Early Intervention services in your area.
~ Identify local support agencies that specialize in providing information and services for your child's specific needs.
~ Do not assume that the government will fully provide for your child's lifetime needs. Begin learning how to advocate for your child's services.
~ Maintain a balance in your overall planning to include needs for other children as well as your own needs (both personal and financial).
~ Determine an adequate amount of life insurance needed in the event of a premature death of a caregiver or primary wage earner.
~ Do not establish savings or investment accounts in your child's name. These include custodial accounts of Uniform Gifts to Minors Accounts (UGMAs) or Uniform Transfer to Minors Accounts (UTMAs). You should save in accounts in the name of the parent(s) that could be "earmarked" for the child.
SPECIAL NEEDS PLANNING POINTER
Gifts from family and friends should not be made directly to the child, to custodial accounts (i.e., UTMAs), or college savings accounts (i.e., 529 Plans) in the name of the child. If a grandparent or other family member or friend is expressing interest in making a gift to your child, first say thank you! Then contact us to help explore the best options for your family's situation.