CHICAGO (CBS) — Parents of special-needs children in Illinois will soon get some relief from the financial burden of the care their kids require.

“It’s the kind of thing that you just don’t think is going to happen to you,” said Patty Vasquez, whose 10-year-old-son Declan has severe disabilities. He can’t speak, and might never be able to function above the ability of a 2-year-old.

She said the financial burden of caring for Declan keeps her up at night.

“I was at a fundraiser, and one of the moms just out of nowhere said, ‘All I know is, I can’t die first,’” she said.

Vasquez and other parents like her now have some hope they’ll be able to plan for their children’s futures.

Illinois is one of the first states to sign on to a new federally-authorized savings plan. Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts are modeled after 529 college savings plans, and have similar tax advantages. The tax-free ABLE accounts allow parents of special needs children a way to set aside money for their child’s future, so long as the money is used for related health care, housing, transportation, and community-based service expenses.

“The biggest fear of a parent is what is going to happen later on, when we leave this earth. Is there going to be a legacy for this child? Is this child going to be taken care of?,” Pete DiCianni, father to an autistic daughter, and advocate with Autism Speaks.

Mark Friedman said the prospect of opening an ABLE account gives him hope about making sure his autistic son will be cared for properly.

“Over the course of his lifetime, studies suggest that our cost of supporting Alex could exceed $2 million. It’s a staggering thought, but with ABLE accounts at least we have a vehicle to start saving,” he said.

Illinois State Treasurer Mike Frerichs said he is still working out details, but ABLE accounts could be up and running in about a year.