WTVB reports that an Amish family with two children with special needs will receive funds for a custom-made buggy from Michigan’s Children’s Special Needs Fund.
There isn’t a lot of info in this article, but the story is interesting, on a couple of counts. From wtvbam.com (Branch County, MI):
HILLSDALE, MI (WTVB) – An Amish family in Camden is getting some help for two children with Muscular Dystrophy thanks to the Children’s Special Needs Funds from the State of Michigan.
Personal Health and Disease Prevention Director Yvonne Atwood told the Branch-Hillsdale-Saint Joseph Community Health Agency Board of Health in Hillsdale on Thursday that they helped the family apply for the funds and they were awarded the $14,000 needed to have a handicap buggy built for them.
The buggy will be built lower to the ground to enable ease of access. It will also have a box in the rear for wheelchair storage.
You sometimes see buggies which are equipped for disabled riders. Here is a Lancaster buggy with a wheelchair carried in a rear box:
Also, in 2013 a reader shared a photo of an unusual buggy in the Shipshewana area. A member of that Amish community suggested that it may have been created for a disabled rider:
Help from outside the community
What’s rather unusual is the acceptance of funds from this ostensibly governmental organization to address this need.
Generally Amish don’t accept state aid. This is exemplified in things like their practice of community mutual aid and in their non-participation in the Social Security program. Amish believe that they should not be yoked to the state by becoming dependent on government funds.
However, in practice things can be different. There have been cases where Amish have been open to government assistance.
For example there are the unemployment claims made by Amish in northern Indiana who were affected by the 2008-09 economic downturn and its impact on the RV industry. Reportedly a large number of Amish in the area filed for such aid.
How do Amish typically deal with excessive medical expenses? Besides community-run aid programs in some settlements, financial needs are often met through benefit auctions and similar events. They also negotiate with hospitals for better terms, for instance by making prompt payments in cash.
The description of the CSN fund notes that it is actually privately-funded, though it appear to be managed by the state. Grey area?
In this case, it’s possible the family and/or community felt this was more acceptable since the source of funding is private, though going outside of the Amish community for aid is still unusual. Though on the other hand, non-Amish people do also privately support things like Amish benefit auctions.