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Boston Jewish agencies offer trust plan to aid handicapped

The Jewish Advocate
BOSTON, April 6 (JTA) — For most parents, providing their children with food, clothing and other essentials is a challenge. But it is more difficult for the parents of developmentally, mentally or emotionally disabled children. They worry about helping their kids today. But these parents have unique additional concerns about what will happen as they age and their children become adults. State and federal aid, such as Social Security disability income, may continue funding basic needs in the future. But who will pay for the individual’s Jewish community center membership or help finance travel for visits to friends and family? Jewish Family and Children’s Service and Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston are preparing to launch a program to help answer this question. For a $25,000 minimum investment in the Pooled Trust for People with Disabilities, Jewish Family and Children’s Services will provide adults with disabilities with services specified by their parents, services not covered by benefits. The greater one’s investment in the trust, the more services the agency will provide for the son or daughter. The minimum investment is payable over three years or by naming the trust as a beneficiary in a will or life insurance policy. However, no services will be provided before the minimum balance is paid. The two Jewish agencies hope to open enrollment in the trust after May 15, when the Combined Jewish Philanthropies board of directors is expected to give the program its final approval. The agencies anticipate enrolling 10 to 15 families within the first year, said Andrew Schiff, director of mental health services at Jewish Family and Children’s Services. In most cases, the parents will be in their 60s or 70s and the children in their 30s or 40s. The trust is modeled after the UJA-Federation Community Trust for Disabled Adults, a program co-sponsored by the United Jewish Appeal-Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York and the Federation Employment and Guidance Service in New York. Founded in 1992, that program has about 85 participants. “We’re experiencing more and more people coming to us who would like to have some kind of long-term plan,” said Seymour Friedland, executive director of Jewish Family and Children’s Services. The trust’s services will supplement — not replace — those supported by Medicare, Medicaid and other government programs. Although the parents of many prospective clients live near their children, the trust has already drawn interest from parents whose children live in other states. In the long run, Jewish Family and Children’s Services plans to coordinate and collaborate with its counterparts nationwide to better provide these services. Combined Jewish Philanthropies will appoint a board of trustees to approve disbursements from the individual trust accounts, as well as manage and invest the trust funds. “This is a way for a family to set up a trust that takes into account the special needs of a family member,” Schiff said.