To help families deal with the financial consequences of life-altering illness or disability, the Camden County Board of Freeholders has established a ground breaking program to help parents access the funds they need for their children, without destroying the family’s financial future.
“There is no way a mom and dad or a family can ever prepare for a child’s catastrophic illness or severe disability,” said Freeholder Deputy Director Ed McDonnell, liaison to the Division of Programming for People with disABILITIES and Special Needs. “In addition to the devastating emotional toll on parents and siblings, the economic impact in medical bills and other costs can bring the family to its financial knees.”
The State of New Jersey maintains the Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund (CICRF). Financed by New Jersey businesses, the fund was created to help middle class families deal with the costs associated with caring for seriously ill or disabled children.
“The only problem is that a family can only access CICRF money as a reimbursement. In their words, the family must first pay out of its own pocket for the home or van modifications, or other costs, and then present the receipts, before the CICRF money will pay for the entire cost of the project,” McDonnell said. “For many middle class families, that requirement is a deal breaker; they just don’t have enough cash to make the original purchase or down payment.”
For qualified applicants, the fund will often pay the entire cost of such things as modifications to a bathroom in the home, so that the doorway is wide enough, and the sink low enough to accommodate a wheelchair. The fund can also pay to add a ramp or a chair lift in a home, or to purchase or modify a van that can be used to transport a child in a wheelchair.
To provide relief for families facing this dilemma, the Camden County Freeholder Board has become the first in the state to offer “bridge loans” that families can use to make the initial purchase or down payment on equipment and services, while they await reimbursement. Bridge loans of up to $5,000 are available from the county, and the county is later repaid by CICRF.
If a Camden County Catastrophic Illness in Children Bridge Loan can help you care for your child, and enhance your family’s quality of life, call the Camden County Improvement Authority for more information at (856) 751-2242.