Springfield, Mass. (Vocus) December 16, 2008
Caring for children with autism is wreaking havoc on family finances across America, jeopardizing current and long-term care and security, according to a new study, Living with Autism, released today by Easter Seals and Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual).
“No one expected the problems and challenges to be so severe for families living with autism – the numbers are stark and point to the pervasiveness of this public health crisis,” said John Chandler, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of MassMutual’s U.S. Insurance Group. “The study reveals that many families are exposed to serious financial risk due to a lack of awareness and planning.”
For example, of parents having children with autism:
74 percent fear their children will not have enough financial support after the parents die (compared to only 18 percent of parents with typically developing children)
52 percent say caring for their child drains the family’s current financial resources (compared to 13 percent)
47 percent say the cost of care financially impacts how they raise typically developing siblings
“The good news is that, with increased awareness and the right help, this is one piece of the autism puzzle that parents can begin to solve,” added Chandler.
“There’s a lot at stake,” said Joanne Gruszkos, director of the SpecialCareSM Program at MassMutual. “By not addressing financial and life care planning needs, or addressing them with inexperienced professionals, a lot of these families could, at the very least, risk losing the government services that are a real lifeline for children with autism.”
The study found that despite overwhelming need, most parents don’t seek out the help of skilled financial professionals for a variety of reasons, including lack of time, not knowing where to start, and simply being overwhelmed. “Even when they do reach out, the help can be misguided because it comes from financial professionals who are not trained specifically to deal with complex cases involving special needs,” added Gruszkos. “Run-of-the-mill planning can backfire.”
The study found that:
only half of families surveyed receive professional financial advice
only 38 percent have designated a guardian
only 17 percent have created a Special Needs Trust, which can be an important funding vehicle
only 24 percent have identified living arrangements, if the parent is no longer living
MassMutual’s SpecialCare program is an innovative outreach initiative developed exclusively by MassMutual to provide access to information, specialists, and financial products and services that can help improve the quality of life for people with disabilities and other special needs and their families and caregivers.
“Life care planning is a growing area of financial services need, as awareness and occurrence of disabilities and special needs increases across the country,” explained Gruszkos. “MassMutual has more than 200 Special Care Planners across the U.S. who have received advanced training in estate and tax planning concepts, special needs trusts, government programs, and the emotional dynamics of working with special needs families and caregivers,” she added.
“There is an urgent need for increased funding and services – especially for adults with autism. Easter Seals and MassMutual want to help change all of this and make a difference for families living with autism today,” concluded Patricia Wright, Ph.D., MPH, Easter Seals’ national director, autism services.
Results of the study are available at http://www.massmutual.com/autism. A variety of resources from MassMutual for people with special needs, their families and caregivers are available at http://www.massmutual.com/specialcare/resources.
Editors please note: Photos available.
The Living with Autism Study – a survey of more than 2,500 parents about their children’s daily lives, relationships, independence, education, housing, employment, finances and healthcare – highlights the pervasive emotional, practical and financial impacts of autism on families, their futures and their finances.
The study was conducted online within the United States by HarrisInteractive on behalf of Easter Seals between June 16 and July 17, 2008 among 1,652 parents of children age 30 and under who have autism and 917 parents of typically developing children age 30 and under. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.
MassMutual is a leader in helping people with disabilities and other special needs and their families through its exclusive SpecialCareSM Program. For more information and resources on autism, go to http://www.massmutual.com/autism.
MassMutual Financial Group is a marketing name for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) and its affiliated companies and sales representatives. MassMutual and its subsidiaries had more than $ 500 billion in assets under management at year-end 2007. Assets under management include assets and certain external investment funds managed by MassMutual’s subsidiaries.
Founded in 1851, MassMutual is a mutually owned financial protection, accumulation and income management company headquartered in Springfield, Mass. MassMutual’s major affiliates include: OppenheimerFunds, Inc.; Babson Capital Management LLC; Baring Asset Management Limited; Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers LLC; The First Mercantile Trust Company; MML Investors Services, Inc., member FINRA and SIPC (http://www.finra.org and http://www.sipc.org); MassMutual International LLC and The MassMutual Trust Company, FSB.
About Easter Seals
Autism is a lifelong disability that affects the way a person’s brain functions, involving challenges in communication, social skills, and behaviors. While there is no known cause or cure, autism is treatable and people with autism can – and do – lead meaningful lives. Easter Seals is the leading non-profit provider of services for individuals with autism, developmental disabilities, physical disabilities and other special needs. For nearly 90 years, we have been offering help and hope to children and adults living with disabilities, and to the families who love them. Through therapy, training, education and support services, Easter Seals creates life-changing solutions so that people with disabilities can live, learn, work and play. Visit http://www.easterseals.com or http://www.actforautism.org to learn more about autism, find services at an Easter Seals near you, or help change the lives of people living with autism by becoming a donor or volunteer.
Washington, D.C. (Vocus) November 5, 2009
Changes to the Earths land cover, climate, and ecosystems are endangering the health of hundreds of millions, possibly billions, of people worldwide and now represent the greatest public health challenge of the 21st century. The scale of these global changes is rapidly undermining human life-support systems and threatening the core foundations of healthy communities around the globe: access to adequate food, clean air, safe drinking water, and secure homes.
These are the findings of the new report, Global Environmental Change: The Threat to Human Health , published today by the Worldwatch Institute and the United Nations Foundation. The report notes that, as a result of rapid changes to the climate and in land use, we are already seeing alterations in the distribution of malaria, schistosomiasis, and other infectious diseases in many regions. It concludes that poor populations, mainly in developing countries, are the most vulnerable to these environmental changes, even though they are the least responsible for contributing to them.
It is increasingly apparent that the breadth and depth of the changes we are wreaking on the environment are imperiling not only many of the other species with which we share the ecological stage, but the health and wellbeing of our own species as well, writes the reports author, Dr. Samuel S. Myers, M.D., M.P.H., an instructor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Research Associate at the Harvard University Center for the Environment.
The report outlines a series of public health threatsfood and water scarcity, altered distribution of infectious diseases, increased air pollution, natural disasters, and population displacementthat collectively threaten large segments of the human population. But most of the death and disability from these threats is fundamentally preventable, Dr. Myers writes, if the political will can be mobilized to take strong, concerted action. The report outlines the need for national-level risk assessments to identify the greatest threats in different regions, as well as unprecedented technical and financial assistance from the international community to help developing countries adapt to the health impacts of accelerating environmental change.
Ultimately, the report argues, we will need to find new ways to generate economic growth that do not cause serious ecological deterioration, or the progress that has been made toward global health, nutrition, and poverty alleviation will be undone. At present, all of the major types of human caused environmental changeclimate change, changes in land use and cover, and ecosystem service degradationare accelerating, Myers says. To reduce the avoidable human suffering that will result, we must redouble our efforts to slow the pace of environmental change, reduce the rate of human population growth, and reduce the vulnerabilities of those in harms way.
In her preface to the report, Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway and Special Envoy on Climate Change to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, describes the report as a call to action. She writes that, The knowledge that we can make a difference means that we have a large responsibility to act. By fighting ignorance, inaction, and inequity, we can create the conditions under which health threats can be averted. Most importantly, we must take targeted collective action to reduce the vulnerability of the poorest people on the planet to threats they played little role in generating.
The United Nations Foundation, of which Gro Harlem Brundtland is a board member, supported this report. The UN Foundation connects people, resources, and ideas to solve the worlds global problems.
For a review copy of Global Environmental Change: The Threat to Human Health or to interview Dr. Samuel Myers, please contact Darcey Rakestraw at drakestraw(at)worldwatch(dot)org or Julia Tier at jtier(at)worldwatch(dot)org or (+1) 202.452.1999 x594.
About the Worldwatch Institute: Worldwatch Institute delivers the insights and ideas that empower decision makers to create an environmentally sustainable society that meets human needs. Worldwatch focuses on the 21st-century challenges of climate change, resource degradation, population growth, and poverty by developing and disseminating solid data and innovative strategies for achieving a sustainable society. For more information, visit http://www.worldwatch.org.
About the United Nations Foundation
The UN Foundation, a public charity, was created in 1998 with entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner’s historic $ 1 billion gift to support UN causes and activities. The UN Foundation is an advocate for the UN and a platform for connecting people, ideas, and resources to help the United Nations solve global problems. It builds partnerships, grow constituencies, mobilize resources and advocate policy changes to support the UN’s work for individual and global progress. The UN Foundation’s work is focused on decreasing child mortality, improving disaster relief, protecting diverse cultures and environments, creating a clean energy future, empowering women and girls, and improving U.S.-UN relations. For more information, visit http://www.unfoundation.org.
(+1 202) 452.1999 x517
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