Family to Family Network — Planning Ahead for Family Support and Financial Security

Project Summary
Family to Family Network provided community-based education and outreach to people with developmental disabilities (DD) and family members, supporting them in gaining the knowledge and tools to plan for future financial and support needs. Through the project, more families put plans in place for family and financial support. As a result, more people with DD were in better positions to continue living in their homes and communities and have control over their lives as they and their family caregivers age.

For aging family members who serve as caregivers of people with DD, planning for the future can be challenging and complicated. Many traditional retirement and financial planning practices can unintentionally result in people with DD losing eligibility for benefits; losing protections and supports; and facing unnecessary admission to residential settings when their family members can no longer provide care. TCDD supports projects that increase awareness among people with DD who are aging and their family caregivers on the importance of actively planning for their future needs.

Project Highlights

  • Trained more than 275 people with DD, family members, and caregivers in finance and future planning, including classes on Medicaid benefits; ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) tax-advantaged savings accounts; and legal alternatives to guardianship.
  • Provided training to people in under-served communities and also offered Spanish-language classes.
  • Connected participants with MassMutual financial advisers to discuss financial plans and organize documents to help support themselves and their families plan for the future.
  • Created personal networking connections with Texas Parent to Parent to help families develop plans for ongoing support.    

At the start of the project, no participants were using ABLE accounts or were aware of alternatives to guardianship. Few participants had knowledge or experience using financial tools to plan for the future. After the project ended:

  • 89% of people and families who participated created one-page profiles to support their planning goals and needs;
  • 59% established special-needs trusts;
  • 58% developed written visions for their future;
  • 29% created ABLE accounts; and
  • 9% implemented legal alternatives to guardianship.  

Personal Impact Stories

A parent of a 3-year-old child recently diagnosed with autism felt overwhelmed with providing the care and support her child needed and reached out to the project team for help. Project staff reassured the parent that she would be able to care for her child and that resources were available to support her. Specifically, project staff gave information about the admission, review, and dismissal process and individualized education programs. The parent used this information and other project resources to become an advocate for her child and has also started sharing what she’s learned with other parents and friends.

A parent used a “trajectory tool” she learned about during a training session to help develop an individualized education program (IEP) for her son, who is almost 18. Through this process, her son was able to share his desire to go to college. Both son and parent were better able to explain what they did and did not want to be included in an IEP. The parent said the training has helped her actively think about her son living a full and happy life in the career field of his choice.

Project Period
February 2021 to
January 2023

Geographic Reach

Greater Houston area

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