Programs available to help families of children with developmental disabilities

For the families of children with developmental disabilities, it can be worrisome to think about how they will be able to receive services and ensure a better quality of life for their child.

SCCMHA Community Liaison Lynn White is able to help those families with state programs that assist with everyday care.

One such program is the Family Support Subsidy (FSS) Program, which distributes a monthly stipend to eligible families who have a child with a developmental disability.

Families who qualify will receive $300 monthly through the FSS program, which doesn’t have to be used for any specific function. This can be used to assist with things such as rent, food, utilities, transportation, or any other necessities.

In addition, this stipend will not affect any other benefits received by families, such as cash assistance, SSI, bridge cards or other programs. It also does not need to be claimed on taxes.

To qualify, families must have a child enrolled in special education services or under an autism spectrum disorder, severe cognitive impairment or severe multiple impairment eligibility.

Families must also have an annual taxable income of $60,000 or less.

Lynn says over 100 Saginaw County families currently receive the benefits, but knows there are more that can be reached.

“There are many families who may not know about this program,” Lynn said. “We want to be able to help as many as we can.”

In addition, families who have children with special needs who may require mental health services can also encounter difficulties, such as not being eligible for Medicaid, due to their family income being too high.

The Children’s Waiver Program through the state of Michigan provides assistance for those families eligible by claiming the child as a family of one. By doing this, it waives family income and ensures the child is able to receive Medicaid benefits and get the mental health services they need.

To qualify for this program, the child in question must be developmentally disabled, with substantial functional limitations in three of six reportable areas.

Upon contacting SCCMHA for services, families who are not Medicaid-eligible will be put in contact with the community liaison for an eligibility screening to see if the child will qualify. If they do, they will be put in the system on a waitlist through the state until a spot becomes available to receive Medicaid benefits.

Being able to help families work through these programs is something Lynn takes great pride in.

“To get these services is important to the families,” Lynn said. “It puts them on a track to help that child for the future and that’s what we want to do at SCCMHA.”

For more information on these programs or questions to see if your family may qualify, contact Community Liaison Lynn White at (989) 498-2277 or