Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Microboards: What Are They and What Can They Do for You?

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Microboards: What Are They and What Can They Do for You?

Article excerpt

Interest in microboards is increasing in the America. They began in Canada a couple decades ago, and we're seeing them emerge in more and more states as time passes. If you aren't sure what they are, generally speaking, a microboard is a legally recognized, non-profit corporation established to benefit a person with special needs. A board of directors, comprised of people who have an interest in the wellbeing of the person they serve, meets regularly to ensure that the needs of that individual are being met as best they can.

Interest in microboards is increasing in the America. They began in Canada a couple decades ago, and we're seeing them emerge in more and more states as time passes. If you aren't sure what they are, generally speaking, a microboard is a legally recognized, non-profit corporation established to benefit a person with special needs. A board of directors, comprised of people who have an interest in the wellbeing of the person they serve, meets regularly to ensure that the needs of that individual are being met as best they can.

"Nationwide, it's still a relatively new thing," says Nick Carroccio, a Special Care Planner with Allegiant Wealth Management in Dallas, Texas, a general agency of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). "Here in Texas, the concept is kicking off pretty well because of a collaboration developed by the ARC of Texas. For a small fee, microboard directors can receive information and guidance through the collaboration. Establishing a microboard isn't suitable for everyone, but for some, it can be a very good thing." Ordinarily, a microboard is established to oversee the care of a single person, but if two or more people with special needs, such as siblings or a co-habitating couple, share the same pool of money, one board could serve multiple people. "Complications could arise if, for example, two families pool their money to set up one board that will serve children from both families," cautions Carroccio.

Natural or provider--which to choose?

Currently, there are two types of micro-boards in use. Each one provides the same basic support for the individual help finding and using the most suitable opportunities and resources for all aspects of life: medical, financial, social, spiritual, housing, career, education, shopping, daily responsibilities and care, and such. The difference between the two is that a natural support board meets a person's needs by using programs and services generally available to people within the community while the other, called a provider board, is actually licensed by the state as a provider of these services. Requirements differ by state, and not all states have authorized provider boards.

That licensing and certification gives provider boards some advantages over natural boards. It would still use community resources, but provider boards are eligible to receive funding from state and federal governments or other organizations that offer financial support to qualifying providers. Those funds can be used for services that might not be available in the region or affordable to the individual. The board could also hire staff to assist with, for instance, administrative duties, transportation, or personal services. "Being able to pay staff," says Carroccio, "could mean having people with more experience and better qualifications help your loved one."

Carroccio suggests another reason why you might want a microboard. "It's particularly useful especially in terms of housing," he explains. "As a non-profit corporation, the board--either natural or provider--can rent space in person's home, which helps offset housing expenses. People who receive social security benefits live on limited income. In Texas, the maximum monthly benefit is $674, so whoever is stepping up to help must be creative in finding ways to live within the confines of a tight budget." It should also be noted that even though a microboard can be a non-profit organization, most are not tax-exempt organizations. …

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