Advocating comes naturally to Tanya Stephens. She worked in the social services field for 23 years, speaking up and supporting court-involved youth and their families. A few years ago, Tanya began to give children in foster care a place to live.
In 2015, Tanya and her husband welcomed Max and Autumn into their home. Both children have varying degrees of autism. When they first arrived, there were many struggles. Neither child could walk or talk. Max couldn’t feed himself. With lots of love, care and time, Tanya watched their health improve.
“Now, my babies are doing phenomenal,” Tanya said.
In July 2018, Max and Autumn were legally adopted into the Stephens family. Tanya immediately opened ABLEnow accounts for both children.
“By saving for Max and Autumn in an ABLEnow account, I don’t have to worry,” said Tanya. “Everyone knows and trusts the Virginia529 name.”
The ABLEnow program is administered by Virginia529, the nation’s largest 529 plan.
While Max and Autumn are still young, now 9 and 10, Tanya sees ABLEnow as a great educational tool. The kids are learning financial skills and how to take ownership of their money. As a reward for good behavior, Tanya occasionally allows them to use the ABLEnow Card to purchase an item and practice independence. Recently, Autumn bought a dress with her account. Max purchased a new set of wheels—an adaptive bicycle.
“We are also saving up for Autumn’s adaptive bicycle,” Tanya shared.
As a parent, Tanya encourages everyone who is eligible to open and contribute to an ABLEnow account. Extended family, like grandparents, can contribute too.
“Saving as little as $1 a day can make a difference,” Tanya said. “How easy is that?”
While Tanya knows they have the option to use ABLEnow for day-to-day expenses, she is also thinking and planning ahead. Max will need assistance when he is older. Saving for his future is very important.
Tanya adds, “If you can help the person you love have a better future, why not?”
The Stephens family’s experience as ABLEnow account owners may not be representative of other account owners.