Don’t Wait to Register With the Department of Disabilities

I have vowed to keep my child off public assistance. I was, and still am, adamant that if he can work and be financially independent, then he should; everyone should.

The issues evolved when he graduated from high school. While he was able to secure a job, we were suddenly presented with other challenges which we did not anticipate. For example, transportation; if a person cannot get to where he or she wants to go, then the social independence is also void. Without these relationships, a child becomes complacent and it is difficult to re-direct the focus.

Support for independence

Therefore, lately, I have been working to cut through the red-tape at my local disability department and more specifically at the county office. I am asking questions about benefits for young adults transitioning into what I like to refer to as, “Your new world.” Sort of like “the real world,” but promoting independence the way I do, I find it more appropriate to put the onus back on the young man or young lady.

Many parents might feel that they do not need to register with the Department of Disabilities (DOD) because they can take care of the child’s’ needs alone. That might be the case, but many don’t realize there are other services such as a “job coach” or “transportation.” These two areas alone foster independence.

Also, job coaches not only help find employment, but could potentially become a friend or mentor to keep the child motivated. Let’s face it, our children usually take what we parents say with a grain of salt, so having another voice helps to feed encouragement. In my opinion, this is worth more than the disability check. Positive outside relationships are perhaps the most important motivator for a young adult, and of course, if they feel appreciated, great things will happen.

How can my child receive services?

There are some interesting ideas and facts I found. I poked around for more enhanced services which might be available for all young adults. Parents might want to take advantage qualifying services and the sooner the better for optimum support.

I recently spoke with an intake coordinator; she was very helpful, in a sensitive way, and I could tell she understood my concerns. Remaining anonymous, for obvious reasons, she revealed to me that at the Department of Disabilities, unless a person asks for a particular service, that service or information is not volunteered to the client or patient. Now, this could be because the intake coordinator has not yet been notified of the availability of certain services or that the services are not available financially.

Parent’s should know that in order to receive any service through the DOD, their child would need to qualify. Here is where the red-tape comes in. Parents would need to supply evaluations and perhaps even a diagnosis letter from the doctor. But don’t let this stop you because we need to think long-term. Our goal as parents is to take our children to a place where they might be somewhat independent. There is so much government red-tape that services could take months or even years to be put into place. Not to mention the incredibly long waiting list.

Nevertheless, parents are encouraged to at least make a call to the Department of Disabilities. While there are obvious benefits for more involved or totally dependent children, there are also services for simple community support. I was not aware of all the programs available so I felt good knowing there are options.

For more in-depth information, please visit my most recent article on Carolina Parent which provides more detail for parents needing assistance.

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