Many of our families experience great success with neurofeedback in just a few sessions and realize it would be more cost effective to either purchase or rent their own NeurOptimal®'s Portable Neurofeedback device for home use. However, although renting is more cost effective than paying for individual sessions, and purchasing your own device is the ultimate in cost effectiveness, they are still $10,000 systems which can create a huge financial hurdle. How do our patients and their families afford costly healthcare and neurofeedback? Our Neurofeedback Trainer, Jennifer Palcic, asked one of our patients to help inform others about how she has been able to secure grants in order to overcome financial hurdles and pay for neurofeedback and intensive therapy.
We hope these Q&As can help you and your family if you're considering applying for grants.
Q. I need a grant to pay for mental and/or physical health care. Where do I begin?
A. Gather a list of grants from organizations, support groups, or other parents. The first step is visiting grant websites and reading the qualifications and exclusions of a grant. Each grant organization is different. If you qualify for a grant, print out the grant. Read it twice. Take a highlighter and highlight what information you need to gather. Use sticky notes to mark questions or make notes on pages. The grant may require a doctor's letter, a copy of an IEP or ISP, or other documentation.
Break it into steps. If the process is overwhelming, do a couple steps each day.
Present your case within the guidelines of the grant. Be sure to answer questions thoroughly but stay within any word or page limits. Write about your challenges and how what you are requesting will address those challenges. Turn your weakness into your strength by letting your struggles serve as a compelling case. For neurofeedback, emphasize the importance of mental health. You may mention how you have tried counseling or other therapy with limited success or how your child is not a candidate for these services but has a legitimate need to improve brain functioning. For intensive therapy, explain how conventional therapy does not provide the time to solve issues and may have even created more challenges.
Follow up is key. This is important when you need supporting documentation from outside sources such as a doctor or therapist. Be specific with what you need, give the person time to respond, but follow up within a week so your request is not forgotten. Doctors and therapists want to help their clients, but if they are unfamiliar with what they are supporting, it may help them and your grant to give them some pointers to include in their letter. Explain to them briefly what neurofeedback or intensive therapy is and how it will benefit your child. The letter may be signed by the doctor but the strength of the letter comes from how much the doctor understands. Your job is to educate the doctor, if necessary, while showing respect and gratitude.
Ask for help. Your daily challenges can be exhausting and writing a grant is an added mental challenge. Ask someone to proofread your grant for content. If you are not certain what the grant application is asking, reach out to the organization with questions. You don't want your request to be rejected because of a lack of understanding. Often the best time to call or email is first thing in the morning when people are at their desks.
Use your resources. Ask the experts questions. Network with other parents. Join support groups virtually so you can ask questions and receive information at your convenience. Parents with more experience are tremendous sources of information with practical tips of how to do things and what mistakes to avoid. Subscribe to local special need virtual newsletters. Take time to skim the newsletters and write down any grants they may list. Keep a running list of grants. Taking a few minutes to read something here and there will add up to a lot of knowledge and understanding over time. Don't give up if you fail to secure grant funding. With each application, you are gaining valuable experience that will help with your next endeavor.
A. Balance your privacy with your end goal. Some grants are more intrusive than others asking income questions or requiring a face-to-face interview. Determine if it is worth it to give up some privacy to make gains physically and mentally. You will need to share enough of your story to make a compelling case but you do not have to give every personal detail.
Q. Who makes decisions on grant funding?
A. Grant organizations have different structures. Often a committee makes funding decisions.
Q. Are grants awarded quarterly, annually, or biannually? When should I apply?
A. Grants have varying funding cycles. You will find these when you read the grant thoroughly. It is helpful to apply for a grant before you are in desperate need because it usually takes at least a couple of months after submission to receive the grant decision. Think of writing a grant as financial planning for the future.
Q. Can I apply for more than one grant at a time?
A. Applying for multiple grants will increase your likelihood for success.
Q. Which grants are easy to get?
A. Each grant application requires time and effort. Local Ohio grants have less applicants than nationwide grants. You may be more successful with local grants. Each grant can be a challenge but the easiest ones require paperwork and not active involvement such as participation in fundraising.
Q. Which grants are good for neurofeedback?
A. Neurofeedback is brain training. It is not widely understood by conventional doctors, therapists, or grant organizations. Often it is misclassified as neurofeedback therapy or biofeedback and excluded from insurance or a grant. Pass by grants that disqualify these services. When you apply for a grant for neurofeedback, you may have to pick a category and call it "therapy" because it does not fit neatly into any category.
Q. Which grants are good for intensive therapy?
A. Look for grants that do not exclude any form of physical therapy. Describe what you have tried with conventional physical therapy and any medical devices or medication and how huge physical issues still need addressed to make meaningful gains.
Q. Which grants have been helpful to other families?
A. The following are grants that have helped with neurofeedback and/or intensive therapy in the past:
Q. How often can I apply for the same grant?
A. Each grant is different. Some have lifetime funding limits. Some can be applied for annually. Read the requirements. Always be looking for new grants.