Have you ever wondered what all the paperwork is that I complain about? Now that all most of the initial and major paperwork is done it doesn’t seem like that much to me. It is all important and benefits us so it was well worth jumping through the hoops. It is just a lot to think about and consider.
Aside from all the adoption paperwork, which is a separate entity in itself, we had a lot to fill out for Canadian taxes and various benefits. After Sofie was legally ours and a Canadian Citizen, the real work began! In order of priority for us…
- We applied for her Care Card – This was very important in order to not have to pay for all her doctor appointments out of pocket!
- We applied for her SIN card, Passport, and Child Tax Benefit – The CTB is through CRA which automatically enrolled us in the Universal Child Benefit since Sofie is still under 6 years old. All parents do this with a new child. We needed the Passport quickly because of a trip to Mexico Jon’s family was taking us on. The SIN card was easy to apply for with the Passport and it is needed for some of the future paperwork.
- We contacted and registered with the Child Development Center – Up until age five, special needs kids will get their physio, speech, occupational therapy, feeding therapies and most of the family support through the CDC… unless you get the therapy privately but that means paying for it yourself too.
- Once her CareCard came we could register her under Jon’s Extended Medical through work.
- We applied for the At Home Program – If you are accepted and given a choice between Medical benefits or Respite benefits ALWAYS choose the Medical benefits. Respite funds are still available through MCFD and other resources, but no other programs cover Medical benefits like the At Home Program does. In order to be accepted in this program the child needs to be dependent in 3 out of the 4 categories. It is easier to be accepted in the program after your child is 3 years old because then it is easier to show delay and dependence and not just typical baby dependence.
- We applied for the Child with Disabilities Tax Benefit – This is important to have in order to be able to get the credits on our taxes. It also automatically looks at whether you are eligible for a monthly disabilities supplement, just like the Child Tax supplement and Universal Child Benefit.
- We contacted our MCFD Social Worker – A lot of parents don’t do this and honestly, I don’t understand why. Once they have applied to the At Home Program (whether you are accepted or not) you have a file and a Social Worker. Your social worker can help you to get other services, like Respite which you probably won’t have through any other programs, among other services. There are a few different types of respite and the best one, in my opinion, is Direct Funded Respite, to give the parents full control. I’m on the wait list for this one. Since I’m not ready for Sofie to go off for a weekend with out me, I can use this money to pay for anything that gives me a break. I could hire someone to take her swimming, do therapies with her or just to baby sit if Jon and I need to go out.
- We are opening an RDSP – This doesn’t quite make sense to me yet but basically, I understand, this is a long term savings plan for Sofie that gets TONS of added grants from the government. It is sheltered from affecting her disability benefits in the future as long as it is spent within the rules.
- We re-did our Wills to include a Discretionary Trust for Sofie – This is SO important! Most of us have trusts set up in our wills for our children to get if both parents were to die before they were adults. For Sofie we need to structure it a little differently and keep it in our will for our entire lives. If we were to leave a regular trust for Sofie to get at 19, she would have to claim it as income and not be eligible for disability benefits for as long as she has assets that exceed a few thousand dollars. The discretionary trust hides the money from the government by putting it in some one else’s name (you MUST trust that person implicitly) to be used solely for Sofie. The other person doesn’t have to claim it because it is for use on Sofie and Sofie doesn’t have to claim it because technically she doesn’t have access to it. Spending the money is up to the full discretion of the other person, which it why you REALLY need to trust them. This is legal in BC! They can receive this trust at any time in their life so Sofie will get her inheritance from us if we die 5 years from now or 50 years from now. If she dies before the money is spent then her beneficiaries will get the rest, her potential children or her siblings. It is also probably a good idea not to have a beneficiary be a trustee. Since they are in charge of the money, they could decide not to spend it to ensure they get it in the future.
- We also applied for some community programs such as the Access card, to get free movies and entrance in to some attractions, Child Care Supplement for preschool costs, LMDSS funding for her music class/therapy and swimming lessons. There are so many grants and programs out there! I have put together a binder of resources and granting charities if you need any info!
I’m sure there will be more paperwork and programs to apply to as Sofie grows and gets more involved in different things but these were the major ones for us and probably the most important for any new parent of a special needs child! I’m not going to lie. It is a lot of paperwork and keeping things straight. You may need some sort of system. Even within some of these programs there is a lot of paper work to continue filling out, particularly the At Home Program, but it is worth it! When they pay for and deliver Sofie’s diapers, wipes and very expensive Pediasures, I’ll do the paperwork any day!