Funding/Grants for Children with Health Care Needs and Disabilities

Adapted with permission from Navigate Life Texas, a project of Texas Health and Human Services.

Having a child with a disability or special healthcare needs can mean extra costs. This page has a list of different organizations that might be able to help. We found them by reaching out to other parents and researching online. Some places help only families who aren’t able to pay for certain things. Other places just want to help, no matter what your income.

Here are a few tips when applying for grants and funding:

  • Read the website or application carefully. Check if it’s a match for your needs and you understand the rules. That way you can save time and energy.
  • Talk to your child’s doctor before applying. See if you’re asking for the best kind of equipment or service for your child’s needs.
  • If you are picked for a grant, send a thank you letter. And maybe even pictures of your child or family. The organization might use these to get more money to help other families.
  • Don’t give up if you aren’t picked at first. There are many ways to raise money. The lists below don’t include every organization that helps with things like transportation, prescriptions, granting wishes, or other funding. But, they’re a good place to start your search.

Hospitals and Private Foundations For Children with Disabilities

There are some hospitals and private foundations that – on a case-by-case basis – offer grants to help pay for transportation, equipment, or medical expenses. Here are a few:

Prescription Drug and Insurance Co-payment Assistance

There are some organizations that can help with health insurance or prescription drug co-payments, or help you get discounts on prescription drugs.

Wish Granting Organizations

Wish foundations grant wishes for some children who have long-term illnesses or disabilities. This could be a trip to Disneyland, a new computer, a chance to throw the first pitch at a major league game, or many other wishes.

Some of these organizations include:

  • A Kid Again is an Ohio organization that provides cost-free, inclusive adventures for the whole family (including siblings) designed to "give illness a giant time out."
  • The Dream Factory is for children with disabilities and special health-care needs.
  • Make-A-Wish Foundation is for children with life-threatening medical conditions.
  • The Granted Wish Foundation is for children and young adults age 25 and younger who have physical disabilities.
  • A Special Wish Foundation is for children and young adults age 20 and younger who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening condition.
  • One Wish Foundation offers children who have a life-altering condition an outdoor experience of a lifetime.
  • Little Wish Foundation is for children with cancer.

Transportation Help

Sometimes your child might need to see a specialist or get treatment outside of your home city. Here are some organizations that help with travel and travel costs.

  • Air Care Alliance organizes information on more than 60 different programs with volunteer pilots who help people with disabilities or special health-care needs. You can apply to them all at once on the website.
  • Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation pays for travel to cancer treatment for children and young adults age 21 and younger.
  • Angel Wheels to Healing gives free non-emergency ground transportation for people seeking medical attention at a program, clinic, or hospital that is far away from their home. They offer help by giving gas cards, train or bus tickets, or rides from a volunteer driver. You and your child must meet certain income requirements.
  • Children’s Flight of Hope, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that gives children with critical medical needs free air transportation to and from a medical facility, if they are going for treatment.
  • Corporate Angel Network arranges free plane transportation for cancer patients and bone marrow donors going to or from recognized cancer treatment centers.
  • Lifeline Pilots is a private nonprofit organization that gives people with medical and financial needs free air transportation on a private aircraft for health-care visits.
  • Mercy Medical Angels helps transport people in medical and financial crisis by connecting them with people or organizations that give free or low-cost patient air transportation.
  • Miracle Flights for Kids gives free medical transportation by air to families who need necessary medical treatment out of their home state.
  • National Patient Travel Center connects families to air medical transportation for children who need to see out-of-area specialists.
  • Operation Liftoff will provide air travel for a child younger than 18 years old and 1 parent. Any child 3 to 18 years old who has a life-threatening illness and has not received a wish trip from another organization can apply to get a dream trip too.

Local Chapters of National Organizations

There are many national service or charitable organizations that give help in local communities or cities through smaller clubs or chapters. Each local area manages its own programs, grants, and gifts. We recommend that you call or email them directly – or visit their website – to see if they can help you. In the links listed below, you can search for these local chapters.

  • Easter Seals offers a variety of services to children who have disabilities or special health care needs.
  • Elks Lodge might give scholarships or other types of help.
  • Goodwill offers free job training for high-school students and adults with disabilities and special health care needs.
  • Kiwanis are groups that do community service and raise funds for many children’s causes.
  • Lions Clubs might give out grants or other financial help for assistive technology and other needs.
  • Shriners might fund assistive technology, durable medical equipment, or other health care expenses.

Help for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders

Some organizations offer help for children who have autism. Here are a few:

Other Organizations

There are organizations in Ohio and across the country that help people with specific disabilities and special health-care needs get a variety of services and supports.

  • American Council of the Blind offers scholarships for college or job training programs, and sometimes offers grants for assistive technology for people who have vision impairments.
  • Leukemia and Lymphoma Society offers help paying for medical insurance premiums and co-payments for people who have certain kinds of cancer.
  • Muscular Dystrophy Association offers services and support to children with muscular dystrophy.
  • Sight for Students offers free vision exams and glasses. If you meet Sight for Students’ income rules, you can talk to your child’s school or another participating community organization to get a voucher for an exam and glasses.
  • MobilityWorks offers some assistance in finding programs and grants for Ohioans in need of owning a handicap van. Locations in Akron-Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Toledo. 
  • Disability Rights Ohio provides legal advocacy and rights protection to a wide range of people with disabilities. This includes assisting individuals with problems such as abuse, neglect, discrimination, access to assistive technology, special education, housing, employment, community integration, voting and rights protection issues.
  • Assistive Technology of Ohio helps residents with disabilities learn about and acquire assistive technology. They also educate legislators on the needs of Ohioans with disabilities.

This is definitely not a full list of grant and scholarship programs in Ohio or beyond. You can also connect with other parents to see if they have ideas for places in your area that can help you.

Online Fundraising

Many websites now offer families the opportunity to create online fundraisers on their own. This is often called “crowdfunding.” People are using these for medical expenses, equipment, adaptive technology, or even to follow a dream like going to Disneyland.

Here are five of the leading websites that you can use to help raise money for your child. All of these sites charge a fee. Compare them before you pick one.

Jeanine Carroll