A Guardian to a Child with Special Needs? What to Consider

mother with special child
  • Caregivers may experience high levels of stress and emotional exhaustion due to their duties as the primary caregiver.
  • Respite care is essential for a child with special needs, providing parents a break from their responsibilities and helping them explore new experiences in a safe environment.
  • Financial assistance can be found through subsidized childcare, Medicaid, Social Security benefits, charitable organizations, and foundations.
  • Power of Attorney documents provides legal authority for guardians to make decisions on behalf of their children.

When it comes to taking care of a child with special needs, numerous challenges can arise. One of the most pervasive is the strain it can put on the family financially and emotionally. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 17.2 million adults in the United States have or have had a disability at some point in their lives, and this number is expected to continue to rise due to advances in medical technology and improved awareness surrounding disabilities.

This strain often means one parent must take significant time off from work to care for their child with special needs. This can lead to financial hardship for many families, as taking time off from employment results in a reduced income. Additionally, research suggests that parents providing care for a child with special needs also suffer from higher levels of emotional stress than those without special needs children. A survey conducted by Caregiving found that 85% of caregivers report feeling highly stressed due to their duties, and 66% said they felt overwhelmed due to care-related tasks. The same survey also showed that 68% of caregivers report emotional exhaustion due to caring for a loved one with special needs.

If you are a guardian of a child with special needs, it is essential to consider how you can best support them. Here are a few steps to consider:

Respite Care

Respite care is essential to caring for a child with special needs. It can provide much-needed time away from the challenges and stresses of everyday life. Caregivers can benefit from respite care by having a break from their responsibilities and providing extra help when needed. Respite care allows families to meet their needs, such as personal health and well-being, which can positively impact the entire family dynamic.

For children with special needs, respite care allows them to connect with someone outside their family, spending time in a safe environment accommodating their abilities and needs. It gives them access to new settings and activities they may not experience at home or school. They can socialize with new people while being monitored by trained staff who understand their requirements. Respite also helps children build relationships and learn new skills through play or structured activities, helping them gain self-confidence and practice self-care strategies.

Respite care often comes with the added benefits of providing families with financial assistance to afford better the costs associated with special needs caregiving. Financial aid can range from grants and tax credits to payment plans or subsidies depending on the state where the family lives. Additionally, many states have respite coalitions that provide resources specifically for families caring for a loved one with special needs, such as connecting them to respite providers near them or helping them find additional funding sources for respite services.

Financial Assistance

dollar bills

As you will know, the costs associated with caring for a child with special needs can be high. Thus, it is essential to look into ways in which you may be able to receive assistance from the government or other sources. Depending on your state and individual circumstances, financial aid may be available through the following:

Subsidized childcare

Subsidized childcare can provide much-needed assistance to a family caring for a child with special needs. It allows parents to have time away from their full-time caregiving duties, allowing them to look for employment or participate in other activities.


Medicaid is a health program funded by state and federal governments that provides medical coverage for children with disabilities. Medicaid eligibility requirements vary from state to state but typically require proof of U.S. citizenship or legal residency, income level, and disability status (if applicable).

Social Security benefits

The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers two programs to help families with children who have disabilities: the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program and the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. Both are designed to provide financial assistance for those in need, with SSDI providing benefits for those who have worked enough in the past to qualify and SSI providing benefits based on income level and resources.

Charities and foundations

Many charitable organizations and foundations are dedicated to helping families with special needs children. These organizations can provide financial assistance or other support such as respite care, educational resources, and support groups.

Power of Attorney


Having a Power of Attorney (POA) can provide guardians with the legal authority to make decisions on behalf of their children, ensuring that their wishes and needs are considered. It would help if you spoke with an attorney when drawing up a POA document to provide all necessary information is included.

Power of attorney will be especially beneficial for those caring for a child with special needs, as it will give them the legal authority to make decisions on their behalf if the guardian cannot do so.

Final Thoughts

Caring for a child with special needs can be highly stressful and demanding. It is essential to consider how you can best support and provide them with the care they need. By taking steps such as obtaining respite care and financial assistance, finding charitable organizations or foundations for additional support, and drawing up a Power of Attorney document, guardians can rest assured that their child’s interests are being met. With the proper precautions taken, families can ensure their children receive the best possible care while allowing themselves some necessary relief from the challenges of parenting a special needs child.

About The Author


Scroll to Top