Part II - Whoa! My Child Isn't the Only One Getting Older!!

Posted by Haddad Nadworny on Sat, Apr 27, 2019 @ 07:00 AM

The Special Needs Financial Planning Team John Nadworny, CFP, CTFA | Cynthia Haddad, CFP | Alexandria Nadworny, CFP,  CTFAVisit our NEW Interactive Workshops Calendar

This blog kicks off a series illustrating a step-by-step approach to planning for the care of your adult child with special needs. Read Part I. 

 Part II - Figuring Out the Next Steps

Adjusting Expectations - in a Good Way!

Sarah had a lot to think about but being sidelined had allowed her to step outside her daily life and see things she had been too busy to notice. While she was injured, Thomas had stepped up to help in so many ways. She had always viewed Thomas and their family life through the lens of his dual diagnosis of developmental disabilities and autism. While he had always had household chores, it had never occurred to her to ask him to do more; things like carry the laundry baskets to and from the basement, bring in the mail, and clear the front walk of newly fallen snow. With her direction and support, he was able to unpack and put the groceries from the PeaPod delivery away.

Sometimes it’s the small things that add up to big changes.  In thinking about his future living arrangements, Sarah realized she needed to consider both Thomas' expectations and her own.  She had some thinking to do about some very big questions.

Thomas Sarah
What are his capabilities and contributions to the household?

Was she ready to think about, talk about and plan for Thomas to live elsewhere?

What are his thoughts and preferences? 

Was she ready to build a network of people who would care about Thomas and be sure he is supported in his life?

heart-clip-art-heart_Clipart_FreeThe Letter of Intent – The Details of Daily Living.

 As a very important first step, we suggested Sarah begin filling out a Letter of Intent, the “Who, What, Where, When, and How” of Thomas’ life. With the information from the Letter of Intent as a starting point,  we would then work together to create the next level of Special Needs Planning; creating a Team to Carry On.  Download a fillable Letter of Intent here



Sarah and Thomas’ Team to Carry On

A Team to Carry On is a  plan for Thomas’ life when Sarah is gone or can no longer do all that she does today. Planning for a Team to Carry On is an evolving process, and we will be there to advise you every step of the way. There will be three basic steps:

  1. Tie together all of the Five Factors of Special Needs Planning involved in planning for Thomas’ future:
    1. Five Factors JPEG LogoLegal
    2. Family & Support
    3. Government Benefits
    4. Financial
    5. And last, but not least, Emotional.
  2. Discuss who might step in to take on Sarah’s many roles. Think about family, friends, community and professionals and their ability to take on responsibility in the future.  There are roles for people to play both big and small and as Sarah had experienced, the small things can make a big difference.
    • As an example, Sarah’s next door neighbor, who was very fond of Thomas, had helped be the liaison with transportation for Thomas to and from work for the few weeks she was incapacitated. Might this neighbor be someone to take Thomas to a baseball game each year?
  3. Communicate with and begin to involve the people on your Team in Thomas’ life today.
    • As an example, we have several clients who have begun bringing their adult child’s siblings to our planning meetings. There are many varied  roles a sibling may take on; everything from the responsibilities of a Guardian to just being there as a brother or sister.
    • Include non-siblings and others– cousins, aunts, uncles, neighbors and professionals to our planning meeting to let them know they are part of the child’s team.

 Read more about A Team to Carry On

Tags: autism, caregivers for special needs, special needs Letter of Intent, A Team to Carry On, autism and employment, Aging Caregiver, developmental disabilities

Whoa! My Child Isn't the Only One Getting Older!!

Posted by Haddad Nadworny on Sat, Apr 20, 2019 @ 07:00 AM

The Special Needs Financial Planning Team John Nadworny, CFP, CTFA | Cynthia Haddad, CFP | Alexandria Nadworny, CFP,  CTFA

Visit our NEW Interactive Workshops Calendar

This blog kicks off a series illustrating a step-by-step approach to planning for the care of your adult child with special needs. 

Considerable We have just been quoted extensively in Planning for your adult child’s care, when she’ll never be able to care for herselfpublished in Considerable, an online magazine. 


Part I - Meet Sarah

The moment the door closed for our meeting, our client Sarah, whom we’ve worked with for many years, said “We need to talk about what happened to me over the holidays. “ 

 The Wake up Call

bloom-blossom-feet-2120087She had simply been coming down the stairs of her home when she slipped on a tread and landed awkwardly, breaking a few of the bones in her right foot. Recovery from a broken foot is not a quick fix; the first week of complete immobility and pain had been followed by a few weeks on crutches, then a walking cast and then finally, she was able to walk unassisted, resume her daily activities and very importantly, wear her shoes!

The broken foot had healed but Sarah’s life had been upended in a way that she had not anticipated.  The accident had opened a window on the future, and given her a view of what life might be like as she grew older; a time when she might not be as strong or nimble as she is now. 

Sarah is taking this wake-up call very seriously, driven primarily by concern over the future care of her adult son, Thomas.  Thomas lives with her and has developmental disabilities.  He participates in a day program but right now, his other activities are limited and they spend almost all of their time together.


Working on a Plan 

Sarah had 3 questions she wanted to discuss and plan for:  

  • Where will Thomas live?
  • What supports will he need?
  • What resources do I need to make this happen?

While Sarah and Thomas have their own individual lives and circumstances, Sarah’s concerns are far from unique.  Many of the parents we work with have given voice to these same worries.

When we first meet someone, we usually begin with some basic questions.  We backed things up a bit and asked,

  • Who was your first call when you fell?
  • Does that person know Thomas” routine?
  • Does the agency running Thomas’ program have the authority to speak to this person?

We have learned that it is important to be sensitive to all considerations, particularly emotional factors, and how they may influence the motivation a parent has in planning.  It is very easy to feel overwhelmed and become frozen into inaction. We walk with them, step by step, to keep the discussion focused and moving forward.


Part II - Figuring Out the Next Steps - published next week. 



Tags: parents of people with disabilities, caregivers for special needs, special needs Letter of Intent, Aging Caregiver

Interviewing a Caregiver- Advice from an Expert

Posted by Patty Manko on Wed, May 21, 2014 @ 04:10 PM

An Interview with Donna Levin,  

Donna Levin,


Donna Levin is a co-founder and the Vice President of Operations for, an online company that is the world’s largest destination for family care.  Donna has her own connection with parents of children with special needs: her son experienced a seizure episode when he was an infant. As a result, her husband, whose background is in social work, stayed home to care for him for his first 3 years.  She understands the importance of finding quality care and supporting caregivers.

 Finding the best caregiver

When first launched, most parents looking for care for their child with special needs would advertise for a babysitter or nanny along with everyone else.  The team decided to start a team focused on serving the special needs community and set about doing research to define their offering.  Eight months of collaborative research produced  a new enrollment flow for care providers, refined search capability for families and some data that would be helpful vetting caregivers for families of people with special needs. The overall finding was that each family uniquely defined a quality care provider.  The research backed up the experiences of the individuals in this series: there is no “best” caregiver profile. ’s mission became making sure families have lots of options to find the provider that is the ideal fit for them and focusing on presenting many choices of people and skills.

Ask the right questions to get the information you need

Donna shared her favorite questions to ask when interviewing a caregiver for her own family.

What are some things that I personally need to know about you in order for the two of us to have a good working relationship?

Once we develop that relationship, what should I never do if I don’t want to ruin that working relationship?

These questions should open up the conversation and give you an opportunity to learn about the applicant’s personality.

Do you have any other obligations that could impact your ability to do the job? .

You need to know if the applicant has a hard start and stop time. This could be for a number of reasons from school, second job or caregiving.

When it comes to experience, you want to cover all the bases to be sure they meet all the qualifications necessary.

What is it you love most about caregiving and why?

What has been the most challenging experience you have had as a caregiver?

What did you learn and how did you resolve it?

What has been your experience with medical emergencies?

Have you dealt with a medical emergency? What steps did you take?

Ask questions relating directly to their temperament- it is especially important that the caregiver’s temperament is compatible with the person with special needs’ diagnosis.

How do you manage a challenging situation?

How do you redirect attention in a challenging situation?

How do you handle a tantrum? (especially appropriate when caring for a senior or adult child.)

Reference Check

The next step after the interview is the reference check. Most providers show up at the interview with two references lined up.  Donna suggests asking for a third reference on the spot or to be provided within a very short time thereafter.

She received the best advice from a colleague at a national non-profit: ask to speak to a family member.  The logic is this: if they don’t honestly believe their son, daughter, or other family member can fulfill the responsibilities of the job, they will begin to hedge.  They may say things like: What kind of support will they have?  How much training will be involved? These are warning signs that the person may not be the ideal caregiver, no matter how great the connection appears at the time.

Background check

For this step, Donna advises to do what makes sense for your family and your situation.  The background check is just one other tool you have to make an informed decision. offers a spectrum of services.  On one end is the preliminary check- social security number verification, the State sexual offender registry search (all 50 states)  and a national criminal database search.  Unfortunately, not all states are consistent with the information they provide.

On the other end of the spectrum, offers their Premier background check. This search involves calling upon a network of local private investigators that go beyond the databases available and physically visit the local courthouses in question and do research.  They can figure out every place a provider has lived – even if the provider has not reported it because they don’t think it was important information. For example, let’s say the applicant had speeding tickets out of state- it may be important to know this if the provider is driving your loved one to appointments and errands.

The CORI check is the most comprehensive check available in Massachusetts.  CORI even shows allegations made against an individual, in addition to substantiated infractions. The comprehensive nature of the CORI means that an individual would need training in order to understand and interpret the CORI report.

One of the best tools is to do your own research.  Google the person.  Check their social media presence – if it is not public, will they give you access? Check to see what communities are they involved in. Any community info will come up in a search- e.g. a local police blotter.

The Offer

After you have finished your interview, your background checks, research and reference checks, draw up the terms of the offer. 

Be explicit in outlining your expectations. Arrange for the new caregiver to spend time with the person they will care for and watch the interaction. Have a trial couple of days during which family members can check in. You can also poll neighbors for their observations and of course, ask your loved one for feedback, if possible.

Always keep a schedule of regular one on one meetings.  You need to know how the individual is handling the stress of caregiving and conversation is a great way to review things.  Your goal with these meetings is to keep good situations going and address situations when things are not working out.

Donna Levin is a co-founder and Vice President of Operations for (NYSE: CRCM). has grown to be the world’s largest online destination for finding and managing family care, with 10.7 million members spanning 16 countries.’s web and mobile platforms enable families to connect to care providers and caregiving services in a reliable and easy way, while also helping care providers find meaningful work. Through its consumer matching platform, tools and resources, allows families to make more informed hiring decisions. The Company also enables families to pay caregivers electronically online or via mobile device and also subscribe to HomePay to manage their household payroll and tax matters.  Through its Workplace Solutions unit, also serves hundreds of thousands of families whose employers provide access to’s platform, as well as backup dependent care, as a corporate benefit.


No one can replace a parent,  but we can help you create a team to carry on.   Click here to learn more.

Tags: caregivers for special needs

Beyond the Checklist: Interviewing a Caregiver-Part 2

Posted by Patty Manko on Thu, Apr 10, 2014 @ 07:02 PM

caregivingHiring Your Own Caregiver is the second installment in our series of papers designed to help parents, siblings, guardians, trustees and individuals with the process of hiring a caregiver. Each of our contributors has generously shared their situation and advice, including many how-to's and helpful tips, learned from their personal experiences with the hiring process. 

Click the paper below to read about and feel the energy of Adriana Mallozzi, who has been hiring PCAs for herself for 15 years.   

Screen Shot 2014 04 03 at 3.31.37 PM resized 600

Tags: caregivers for special needs

Beyond the Checklist: Interviewing a Caregiver

Posted by Patty Manko on Thu, Mar 27, 2014 @ 01:02 PM

TheCaringForceheartwordcloud resized 600Interviewing a Live-In Caregiver for Your Adult Child is the first in our series of papers designed to help parents, siblings, guardians, trustees and individuals with the process of hiring a caregiver.  Each of our contributors has generously shared their situation and advice, including many how-to's and helpful tips, learned from their personal experiences with the hiring process. 

First up, meet Sara ,a mother with several years of experience recruiting, interviewing, hiring and managing the caregivers for her adult daughter, Ashley.  Click on the image below to read the full story.

Interviewing a Caregiver I




Tags: caregivers for special needs

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