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Planning Ahead For Your Child's Future

Apr 20, 2008
The time will come when your child will want to live independently from your family or when you will no longer be able to meet your child's needs. For many families, this change occurs around the time their child turns 18. Although it may be difficult to imagine anyone else taking care of your child or your child leaving home and living on his or her own, it's important to plan for your child's future. Include your child in the planning as much as you can.

As someone once said, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. When it comes to your child it is vital to make a clear and solid plan about the future. There are several places where can obtain information that may help in planning ahead for your child's future. One of the most important resources is the internet. There is a vast amount of information on the internet that can help you plan for your child's future. It is important to note that any advice that you get online is purely based on opinions and may not be a licensed professional. There it is important for you do counter check the information that you find by visiting a professional with any questions and concerns.

As your child grows up, prepare him or her for the eventual separation from your family by involving him or her in recreational activities outside the family, such as team sports or summer camp. Help your child make friends and develop skills in decision-making to ease the transition to community living. Show your child how to use public transportation and manage money.

The ultimate goal is for your child to live, work, and play within the community, and to have meaningful personal relationships. Look for an environment that provides protection and support as well as independence. If you are unsure about the types of living situations available in your community, talk with a social worker at your local hospital to find out what options your child has. A child with a physical disability that requires periodic care or one who is mentally disabled may benefit from a semi-independent living or working arrangement. Group homes are residences in which four to six disabled people live together with one or two support staff. Group homes offer many of the comforts of home while helping the child become self-sufficient.

Children who need ongoing care may need to be placed in a long-term care facility or specialized rehabilitation center that offers care for an extended period. If your child needs long-term care, carefully consider all of the emotional and financial implications of placing your child in such a facility. Ask your child's doctor or a social worker at the hospital where the doctor has staff privileges to recommend a qualified long-term care center. Visit the facility before placement so you can feel comfortable with the staff and surroundings. Don't feel guilty that you have abandoned your child after placement. Your child's doctor will recommend long-term care only if your child needs it. If you have difficulty coming to terms with your child's placement in long-term care, ask the doctor to recommend a therapist you can talk to.
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