Here we are, raising our daughter with special needs – thankful to have enough money to give her private lessons and therapies when needed. We’re grateful to be able to put aside money in a savings account for her, thinking we’re being responsible and taking care of her future needs. But are we?

I’ve lived in Israel for over 30 years and after years of scraping by, we are finally financially solvent. Recently, we reviewed our savings of 10 years. We have put together enough for a bare monthly minimum for our daughter to live on for hardly two years. Rude awakening? More like panic.

Like everything else in the world of special needs in Israel, it’s all a mystery until you’ve gone through it yourself. No government agency volunteers information or assistance – in fact when we met with a social worker from the welfare ministry to hopefully get some information about assistance and services for our teen with Down syndrome, we were told that they had NOTHING to offer. Well, maybe one weekend a year when we could park her in one of their “nofshonim” and have a weekend off to ourselves. Well, that might work for dogs (and often not very well) but children or teens don’t feel comfortable in a completely alien environment without a single familiar face. So we said “No thanks.”

When your child is small, you expect to be providing for all her needs but as a child with special needs gets older, you start to think: Does this dependency ever end? Who will take over from me? How will she manage as an adult? How will I provide for her financially? Does she have to be a burden on her siblings?

So many questions. Not enough money.

By Miriam Avraham, Shutaf Co-Founder