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How to Find Funds for Therapy

One of the biggest challenges families often face is funding all the therapies their children need. This guide provides resources Northeast Ohio families can use to help pay for therapies, specialized education, equipment, and more.

Step 1: Call your insurance provider.

Before beginning your search, call your health insurance provider to determine what they will cover. Many insurers offer coverage for a limited number of therapy visits with associated diagnosis and still others may have complementary/alternative medicine (CAM) programs that cover therapies like aquatics, etc. If therapies aren't covered, you may want to consider whether an insurance plan through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is an option for your family. See the Insurance section for more information.

Step 2: Check with the Children with Medical Handicaps Program.

The Children with Medical Handicaps Program (BCMH) is a supplemental insurance program that helps families to cover out-of-pocket costs for diagnosis and treatment of conditions classified as “medical handicaps.” See the Children with Medical Handicaps Program section for more information.

Step 3: Ask your school district.

Depending on your child’s age and disability status, you may be entitled to therapy services through early intervention or through your home school district. For more information on these options, see Early Intervention (birth to 3) and Schools (3 and up).

Step 4: Look for resources in your county of residence.

Depending on your income and county of residence, you may be eligible for a county-based family assistance program. See the County Resources section for more information.

Step 5: Apply for a scholarship.

The state of Ohio offers scholarships for children with an autism diagnosis and for children with other disabilities attending a public school under an IEP. Both scholarships have rolling enrollment deadlines and require students to “opt out” of home school districts. For more information, see the Scholarships section.

Step 6: Apply for grants from nonprofits or charitable foundations.

There are many nonprofit and charitable foundations across Northeast Ohio (and the state) that offer grants to families in need.
Criteria for grants vary, so be sure to read and study requirements for each grant to determine whether you qualify. See the Nonprofits & Charitable Foundations section for a list of options.

Step 7: Contact a lending library.

Nonprofit “lending libraries” sometimes purchase therapy equipment and allow families to borrow these big-ticket items to provide at-home therapies. Check the Lending Libraries section for a list of these resources.

Step 8: Try fundraising.

More and more families are using online fundraising websites to help pay for therapies and treatments that are not covered by medical insurance. The Fundraising Sites section identifies a few of the largest online fundraising sites.

Using Insurance

When calling your insurance provider, have your diagnosis codes ready and be sure to ask about:

  • If therapy is covered under medical or mental health benefit
  • Number of allowed visits per year
  • Types of therapies covered
  • Exempted diagnoses (some insurance providers exempt therapies for specific diagnoses, like autism, for example)
  • Copays
  • In versus out-of-network providers

If Therapies Aren't Covered:

Unfortunately, many insurance providers do not cover therapies such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), occupational and speech therapies. If your provider does not cover the therapies your child needs, you may wish to consider a separate insurance plan for your child through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as "Obamacare."

To research ACA-compliant plans, visit HealthInsurance.org. Through the site, you can even obtain free health insurance quotes or receive free help from licensed agents by calling 1-844-608-2739.

If Medications Aren't Covered:

Families who use medications to help their children get the most from therapies may see a cost savings (which can result in additional money for therapies) by using several different prescription cost reduction options:

  • Search for prescription discount cards. Many manufacturers offer prescription discount cards in order to keep patients from using generic label medications. Check the manufacturer websites for these offers.
  • Purchase prescriptions from warehouse clubs. Warehouse club pharmacies (such as Costco and Sam's) often offer members prescriptions at a lower cost. Call the pharmacies to check the prices when refilling your child's medications.
  • Use GoodRX for prescription discount coupons. GoodRX is a free website that allows you to search for your prescription, compare costs from local pharmacies and print discount coupons.
  • Ask your child's healhcare provider. Sometimes similar medications with a lower cost can work as well as another medication. Ask your child's healthcare provider for other options with lower costs.

What is a diagnosis code?

Diagnosis codes are used to identify a specific illness or injury and will be assigned by your health care professional. These codes are then used by your insurer to determine eligibility for benefits.

Read more about diagnosis codes on Wikipedia.

Children with Medical Handicaps Program (BCMH)

BCMH offers three core programs (in addition to several smaller, diagnosis-specific programs):
  • Diagnostic: Children can receive services from BCMH-approved providers to rule out a special health care need, diagnose a condition or develop a plan of treatment.
  • Treatment: Children can receive services from BCMH-approved providers to treat an eligible condition. The family must also be financially eligible.
  • Service Coordination: Helps families locate and coordinate services for their child. This program does not pay for medical services. Financial eligibility is not required for this program.

You can learn more about BCMH and begin the application process from the Ohio Department of Health website. Please note that only a BCMH provider can submit your application. Ask your child's health care provider if they are a BCMH health care provider or use the locator from the Ohio Department of health to find a provider near you.

A free Family Handbook for Families of Children with Special Health Care Needs in Ohio is also available through the Ohio Department of Health.

The Children with Medical Handicaps Program (BCMH) is a state-run program that provides supplemental insurance to families of children diagnosed with a medical handicap. These diagnoses may include (but are not limited to):

  • Birth defect
  • Hearing loss
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Cancer
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Hemophilia
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Spina bifida
  • PKU and other metabolic conditions
  • Congenital heart disease

Early Intervention (birth to 3)

Ohio's Early Intervention (EI) Program is available at no cost to all Ohio families with qualifying children under three years of age. Call 1-800-755-4769 or complete the online referral to get started with this service.

Autism & EI

The Federal Government requires EI to provide Applied Behavior Analysis services (or pay for a qualified outside firm to provide them) for children under the age of three. Several firms have are certified to provide these services in Cuyahoga County. For more information, contact your EI caseworker.


Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA), school-aged children with disabilities are entitled to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). Depending upon the student’s disability status, elements of FAPE may include therapy services, such as speech, occupational therapy and physical therapy.

Disability status is evaluated and determined by the student’s home district. For more information or to request an evaluation, contact your local school board.

Whose IDEA is This?

For more information on IDEA, the process of determining disability status, and the latest standards, download the free guide, "A Guide to Parent Rights in Special Education."

County Resources

Both Lorain and Cuyahoga counties offer services through departments of developmental disabilities ranging from therapy and educational services to camps, transportation, assistive devices and financial support.

Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities

In addition to therapies and services offered through the board of developmental disabilities, Cuyahoga County residents with a financial need may apply for family resource dollars. For more information, see the Family Support Program website. For all other services, see the main site.

View in Connecting for Kids Service Provider Directory

Lorain County Board of Developmental Disabilities (Murray Ridge Center)

In addition to therapies and services offered through the board of developmental disabilities, Lorain County residents with a financial need may apply for family resource dollars. For more information, see the Family Support Program website. For all other services, see the main site.

View in Connecting for Kids Service Provider Directory

Types of services the may be covered by county boards of developmental disabilities:

  • Respite Care
  • Special Equipment
  • Home Modifications
  • Special Diets
  • Counseling, Training and Education
  • Speech, Occupational and Physical Therapy
  • Diapers/wipes and/or underpads due to special needs of individuals five years of age or older.


Two state-level scholarships are available to families of eligible school-aged children (5 and up) with disabilities. Students must have an IEP and be willing to “opt out” of all public school services to receive these scholarships.

Autism Scholarship Program (ASP)

this scholarship allows parents of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders to waive public education and use state reimbursement to cover education and services outlined in a child’s IEP. Services must be provided from the approved autism scholarship provider list. Learn more about the application process and check for eligibility here.

1-877-644-6338 (toll free)

Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship Program (JPSN)

Allows parents of children on an IEP to waive public education and use state reimbursement to cover education and supportive services under any disability diagnosis. Services must be provided from the approved Peterson scholarship provider list. Learn more about the application process and check for eligibility here.


TIP: Additional information on scholarships offered by the state of Ohio can be found on the School Choice Ohio website.

Nonprofits & Charitable Foundations

A number of nonprofits and charitable organizations offer funding in the form of grants and scholarships. Application periods vary as do application criteria. For more information, please contact the nonprofit or foundation directly.

ACT Today!

(Autism spectrum disorder diagnosis only) Nonprofit organization providing resources (including referrals, funding and guidance) to individuals with ASD and their families.


ACT Today! for Military Families

(Autism spectrum disorder diagnosis only, military families only) Separate branch of the ACT Today! organization serving military families.


Different Needz Foundation

Helps families to purchase medical equipment and services for individuals with developmental disabilities.


Doc’s Deepwood Run Foundation

Provides grants and gifts to programs and individuals with developmental disabilities. Assistance includes equipment, activities, camps/recreation, respite, and medicines. Income requirements apply.


Easter Seals: Elyria Rotary Children with Special Needs Fund

(Lorain county residents only) Provides assistance to children (under 17) with disabilities for equipment, supplies, services or treatment that would not be considered payable by any other means. Contact Murry Ridge Center Service and Support Administration for an application.


Easter Seals: Campership Program

Provides financial assistance to people with disabilities who may not otherwise be able to afford summer camp. Scholarship allows an individual to attend the camp of their choice (overnight or day camp available).


Gia Nicole Angel Foundation

Provides funds to cover the purchase of specific items to enhance the daily functioning of a child with special needs and his or her family. This includes children with any physical disability (such as, but not limited to: spina bifida, paralysis, missing limbs) or illness (such as, but not limited to: cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, cancer). Funds are awarded on a case by case basis with preference given to lower income and single parent families.


Lil MAC Kids

(OH and MN families with autism spectrum disorder diagnosis only) Grant money may be used for therapies, adaptive devices and medical treatments.


The Lindsay Foundation

Assists families with resources necessary to provide medical treatment, therapies and rehabilitative equipment. Email for application.


The Maggie Welby Foundation

Offers grants for children and families who have a financial need for a particular purpose. Grants may extend to children and families in need of help with bills, athletic opportunities, medical needs, or an opportunity that a child would not otherwise have. Scholarship assistance is also available to families with a financial need.


Midwest Council for Children with Disabilities

Provides family grants to assist with the costs of providing medical treatments and therapies not otherwise covered by health insurance. Ohio grant application form can be found at the bottom of the Contact page.


Modest Needs

Provide short-term financial assistance to individuals and families in temporary crisis who are working and live just above the poverty level. Modest Needs' mission is to help low-income workers who are struggling to shoulder the burden of a short-term emergency expense.


My Gym Challenged America Foundation

Supports individuals with cognitive and physical disabilities through gifts of services or programs (up to $500). Types of items include adaptive chairs, educational programming, therapy equipment, etc.

1-818- 907-6966 x117

National Autism Association

(Autism spectrum disorder diagnosis only) Provides families with financial assistance for medical treatments/testing, supplements and behavioral therapy services through The Helping Hand Program. Strict financial guidelines apply.


James R. Nicholl Memorial Foundation

(Lorain County residents only – at least 2 years residence) Contact the foundation via mail with a letter describing your child and their therapy needs. The foundation will reply with the appropriate forms to submit a full application.

Jodi M. Nead
Trust Officer & Vice President
J. P. Morgan Private Bank
1300 East 9th Street, Suite 1300
Cleveland, OH 44114

The Orange Effect Foundation

the Orange Effect Foundation is a 501(c)3 foundation that empowers children and young adults (21 and under) with speech disorders to effectively communicate through technology and speech therapy.


Parker’s Purpose

Provides up to $1,000 to any family who has a minor (18 and under) with a life-altering illness or disability and is in financial crisis due to unforeseen medical expenses. Funds may be used as the recipient deems fit to help with their situation.


Prayer Child Foundation

Provides assistance to children 18 and younger with physical and emotional challenges. Print application (click Submit a Request).


Small Steps in Speech

Assists children with speech and language disorders by funding supplemental therapies and treatments.


Special Kids Therapy

(Ohio residents only) Provides support, financial assistance, as well as programs and activities for families with children with special health care needs. Family scholarships cover the cost of equipment or therapies and activities that are not funded by insurance or other agencies.


United Healthcare Children’s Foundation

Provides financial relief (up to $5,000 with lifetime max of $10,000) for families who have children (16 or younger) with medical needs not covered or not fully covered by their commercial health benefit plan. Must have commercial healthcare/dental to apply.


Zane’s Foundation, Inc.

(Northeast Ohio residents only) Provides funding assistance to families with children with disabilities so that they may receive necessities not covered by insurance, government agencies or other organizations. Applicants must have an IEP, ISP, or lifelong disability that affects capacity for independent living, economic self-sufficiency, learning, mobility, social skills, receptive and expressive language, self-care, or self-direction.


Cerebral Palsy/Brain Injury Diagnosis Only Grants

Speech-Language Diagnosis Only Grants

Lending Libraries

Special needs lending libraries loan adaptive and medical equipment to families for short-term needs (for example, to assess whether an item is useful to an individual or to substitute for a broken item while it is repaired).

Assistive Technology of Ohio

Offers adaptive devices (switches, keyboards, positioning seats, phones, iPads) and toys with the intent of helping Ohioans with disabilities to try items before making a purchase as well as a trading post (where families can trade/donate used devices) and a device rental program for low-vision/CCTV equipment.


Matthew’s Lending Library

(Lakewood, OH) Nonprofit providing adaptive therapy equipment and capability switch operated toys to children and young adults with special needs. Must apply for membership (click Contact tab for form).

View in Connecting for Kids Service Provider Directory

RePlay for Kids

Works with agencies in Northeast Ohio to adapt mainstream battery-operated toys for the children they serve. If you qualify as a low-income family at your supporting agency, you may be able to receive a free adapted toy through the RePlay @Home program.

View in Connecting for Kids Service Provider Directory

Fundraising Sites

Several sites allow you to set up fundraising accounts for your child so family and friends can donate.

Fund It Forward

Nonprofit helping families to raise money for adaptive equipment not covered by health insurance. Organization funds family requests with the promise that the family will raise funds for the future requests of others.



Commercial online fundraising site. Charges 5% service fee and a credit card fee of 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction.



Online fundraising site targeting medical expenses, living expenses associated with illness or injury and memorial funds. Charges 7.9% service fee + 30 cents for each transaction.



Commercial online fundraising site. Charges 5% service fee and a credit card fee of 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction.



Charges only a credit card fee of 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction.


Call, text or email:

Phone: 1-440-570-5908
Email: info@connectingforkids.org


P.O. Box 45372
Westlake, Ohio 44145

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