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The DSAGSL will bring you a recap of what you might have missed in previous weeks as well as additional information about other important topics. If you would like more information about a particular issue featured in this edition, contact Erin at

Month of October Topic - Opening Your Own Group Home

Our October Coffee Talk welcomed Martha C. Brown, attorney and president of Martha C. Brown & Associates, LLC, visit the website here. The attorneys at Martha Brown & Associates, LLC specialize in the unique legal needs of the elderly, disabled and families who care for them. On October 21st, Martha spoke with our members about the intricacies of beginning a group home for one’s family member with Down syndrome.  Below are ten tips from Martha’s presentation. You can find the entire presentation and other handouts on the DSAGSL website. You can also contact Martha at 314.962.0186.

     1.    Families are beginning their own group homes because they want more input
regarding who their loved one lives with and what organization manages the
    independent supported living arrangement (ISL).

     2.    Step 1: Find the right living arrangement. Condos are easier to care for and
    may have a lower initial cost and other amenities. A single family home may have
    higher cost and more maintenance but there may be more availability.

     3.    Saving for a down payment is NOT impossible. Your loved one can pay you rent
    with SSI while he/she is living with you, which you then save for the down
    payment. Once purchased, you rent the home to the supervising agency and you
    pay the mortgage with the rent they pay you.

     4.    TIP: Be sure to include the cost of potential repairs and taxes in the rent price
    negotiated with agency.

     5.    TIP: Title the home in the parent’s name with arrangements for transition at
    death or incapacity or place the title in a special needs trust.

     6.    A Special Needs Trust is a trust for benefit of a person with disabilities. This
    trust ensures that you can save money for your loved one’s future without it
    affecting his/her benefits. A trust can be the owner of a condo or house.

     7.    Step 2: Choose the supervising agency. An ISL agency rents the home from you,
    thus paying the mortgage. The agency also helps select other tenants if necessary
    and provides supervision. Your loved one becomes a client of the agency. Funding
    has unfortunately dropped for new clients to utilize ISLs which may be the most
    difficult part of this process. Agencies include but are not limited to Easter Seals
    Midwest, The Arc, Emmaus Homes, etc.

     8.    Step 3: Work closely with your regional center from the outset so you can be ready
    to move forward with the process when funding becomes available. Click here to
    view the Department of Menta Health website. Reference the Circle of Support

    document for detailed information.

     9.    TIP: Begin the planning process early. Maintain the family member’s Medicaid and
    SSI eligibility. Many public services, including ISL, is based on these eligibility

     10.  Don’t get discouraged! This is not an impossible task and there are people to
     help along the way!

Additional Resources

For more information about specific topics related to Down syndrome, visit the resource section of the DSAGSL website or check out books from our lending library. The library name is DSAGSL and you do not need a password.

If you have specific questions or concerns about this topic, feel free to contact our office at 314.961.2504 or join our private Facebook group “DSAGSL Sharing Our Strategies.

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