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Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
Advances in health and medicine.
SW: Parenting Channel
Reported January 9, 2013

Special Needs Children: Protected Tomorrows


Protected Tomorrows, Inc. creates care plans for the future of individuals with special needs and disabilities. Their goal is to help those people attain greater independence and security, so they can continue to live a satisfying life when their families pass on.
THE FOUNDER: Mary Anne Ehlert’s younger sister, Marcia, suffered from cerebral palsy. Her parents wanted to plan for Marcia’s future but were afraid of doing anything that might jeopardize Marcia's right to the benefits she would need when they passed away. Ehlert researched information and provided her family with guidance. Now, more than 17 years later, Ehlert has built a national network of Protected Tomorrows advocates who help families in need plan for the future of their special family member – answering questions like, “How can you anticipate their future needs?” “Where are they going to live, work and play?” “What happens to them if you're no longer around?” and “How do you even know where to begin?”
HOW IT WORKS: Individuals looking for help can visit the Web site at Use the Advocate Search link found on the main page to find the closest advocate, see a short bio of the person and obtain contact information. After contacting an advocate, a one-on-one meeting will be set up to discuss the current situation and goals for the future. The first meeting will be free of charge, but a fee structure will be determined if the family decides to continue in the process. If working with an advocate is not financially viable, there are workshops available to attend, and online courses will be viable in the near future. 
BECOME AN ADVOCATE: To become a licensed Protected Tomorrows advocate, you must meet the following criteria: be an established professional and/or have personal ties to the special needs community and demonstrate a commitment to serving the special needs market.
Activities of advocates might include spending time with a family during an initial consultation, presenting the Protected Tomorrows mission and providing a life plan to a family you have been working with.
Mary Anne Ehlert
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