Guide to Financial Assistance Resources
August 17, 2022
Caring for a child with autism is expensive. Costs for treatment, copays, gas to transport your child to specialists and therapists, and elopement and wandering equipment can be difficult for families to bear. Compounding feelings of financial stress, some parents must reduce their hours at work or quit their jobs to care for their child.
Parents often wonder if there are financial aid programs specifically for families of children with autism. Unfortunately, that is not the case. There is no New Jersey program that delivers cash to families simply because their child has autism.
That said, there are still programs that might help. Still, many resources have specific requirements or are means-tested, which means parents’ income must fall below a certain level.
We acknowledge that parents feel tremendous financial pressure. They find that they make too much money to get financial help, yet not enough to afford what they need. It is important to know what is available – and what is not – so that families can make the best, most informed decisions about benefits programs and their finances.
Autism New Jersey has collected the following information to save parents and individuals searching for resources time and energy. Here is a list of a variety of financial assistance resources, including resources not specific to autism.
New Jersey Benefits, Services, and Assistance
The following three programs are likely to be the most useful to individuals with autism and their families.
- Work First New Jersey (WFNJ) – includes Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and General Assistance (GA) and provides monthly cash.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – provides cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter. SSI is a federal income supplement program designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people having little or no income. New Jersey residents with autism who qualify for SSI are automatically enrolled in Medicaid.
- New Jersey’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (NJ SNAP) – provides food assistance to families with low incomes to help them buy groceries. SNAP beneficiaries receive a benefits card that is accepted in most food retail stores and some farmers’ markets. Several factors such as income and resources determine eligibility. You can use SNAP benefits to stretch your food budget. See if you are eligible>>
Programs, Assistance, and Relief Funds
The following programs and resources can be helpful to families seeking assistance with specific financial obligations. Private charities that make grants direct to families also exist.
The Supportive Housing Connection (SHC), working together with Autism New Jersey, created The Journey to Community Housing with Support: A Road Map for Individuals and Their Families In New Jersey. The guide was designed to explain and explore housing options for individuals with disabilities. It also includes information about rental assistance and housing subsidies (page 39) that may be helpful to families in need.
For additional information and programs, visit the NJ 211 State Housing Assistance Program. NJ 211 offers housing assistance programs, homelessness prevention services, and other programs that help to improve quality of life.
The State Board of Public Utilities offers a number of assistance programs for utility, electric and gas bills.
The Emergency Broadband Benefit – provides a discount towards broadband internet service for eligible households.
The Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund – provides financial help for New Jersey families overwhelmed by a child’s medical bills. They reimburse families that spend 10% of their income (as well as 15% of any income over $100,000) on a child’s medical bills during a 12-month period, so long as those expenses are not covered by insurance. Those bills can include payment for ABA therapy.
Grants & Charities
- Autism Care Today (ACT)! – gives individuals and families affected by autism grants of up to $5,000. Grant payments are made directly to pre-approved treatment providers, assessors, or materials vendors. (National)
- The Kelly Anne Dolan Memorial Fund – provides financial help for families in the Delaware Valley (PA/NJ/DE) for utility bills, mortgage/rent payments, disability needs, and more. Assistance is paid directly to vendors or creditors. Applicants can call the Fund’s office at 215.643.0763.
- Autism Speaks – maintains a list of Family Grant Opportunities and tips on applying for financial aid grants.
Funding for autism treatment and services is one of Autism New Jersey’s Public Policy priorities. To learn more about our efforts, including advocating for Medicaid coverage for autism treatment, click here>>