The High Cost of Raising Children with Disabilities
There is an inarguable financial burden on Canadian parents with a child who has disability. The cost of obtaining proper care and treatment for a child with disabilities stretches many families beyond their means, especially when they are receiving little to no outside help. The first step to addressing this problem is to understand the situation.
Fortunately, the 2006 Participation and Activity Limitation Survey (PALS) offers plenty of insight into the financial burden and current situation of Canadian parents of children with disabilities. According to this survey:
- The average income for a household with a child with a disability was nearly $10,000 less than the average income ($59,980 vs. $68,940)
- One in five households with a disabled child fell below the low-income cut-off versus 13.4 per cent of non-disabled households
- 38.4 per cent of Canadian parents with children who have disabilities were forced to reduce the number of hours worked, while an additional 36.5 per cent had to adjust their work schedule
- A staggering 76 per cent of Canadian parents listed their child’s disability (this references severe disabilities) as reason for divorce or separation, leading to more single-family homes which often correlates to lower-income
Note: While these statistics refer to all families with children who have disabilities, it is important to note that these statistics were significantly high in families with children with a severe disability.
In recent years, especially as institutions are closed and children with disabilities are brought home to live, the financial burden has increased for Canadian parents, without much financial support. The solution, according to Donna Anderson, PhD, Serge Dumont, PhD, Philip Jacobs, PhD, and Leila Azzaria, MA, is to create a standardized means of measuring the actual financial burden, so that the government can better reach these families according to their needs.
In their article “The Personal Costs of Caring for a Child with a Disability: A Review of the Literature” these researchers reviewed all literature spanning from 1989-2005 to try to distinguish patterns in the economics of the financial burden of a child with disability. Their findings supported the claim that many families incur serious financial burdens when caring for their child, especially so in the cases of a severe disability.
They also found, however, that the economics were often measured haphazardly and inaccurately. The authors created an economic model, but found it was not entirely consistent in finding exact measurements. These authors assert that further standardized research on this more than evident financial burden can lead to better financial assistance for these families. Exact reporting and measurement standards will greatly improve upon the current data pool.
Hopefully, future studies will build off of this and create more measurable economic data, which can lead to more standardized government assistance to struggling families. In the meantime, there are additional means of financial relief available to families. One avenue involves the Disability Tax Credit. To learn more about claiming money through this government offering, contact The National Benefit Authority for a free consultation.