According to Statistics Canada, an increasing number of parents are coping with a child who has a disability. Parents of a child with a disability may also have a higher degree of responsibilities on their shoulders such as the possibility of having to spend more time together, balance caregiver and other responsibilities. Another aspect of financial stress for these parents is the fact they may well have to reduce the hours they work to attend to these responsibilities. This reduces the family income, and adds another layer of pressure on the family.
One issue that is often not taken into account is families with a disabled child come from all socio-economic backgrounds. For families on or below the poverty line, it is often difficult to feed and clothe their children. When they also have to cope with the issue of a disability in the family, the stress level will increase. While Canada has universal healthcare, there will be a plethora of other needs related to a child’s disability. These can be costs of adaptive technology, private tutors, caregivers, According to research conducted in 2007, families with a disabled child are more likely to experience financial difficulties, related to non-reimbursable expenses for disability related supports.
In many families with a disabled child, the family dynamics can be altered. There can be the abandonment of career plans. Female are more likely to be tapped as caregivers, and this may put undue stress on them, as well as the diminished ability to financially contribute to the households. The result can be not only a strain on the family’s finances, but a reduced ability to maintain long-term financial stability.
Not surprisingly, the evidence points to high direct costs for families with children with disabilities, though estimates vary considerably within these families. Out-of-pocket expenditures, particularly those for medical costs, for example, are higher among families with children with a special health care need…Indirect costs consist primarily of reductions in parents’ ability to sustain paid employment. This loss of productivity could relate to additional time that is required to care for a child with a disability combined with high costs or unavailability of adequate child care.
Support is available in the form of the Child Disability Tax Credit. The benefit provides families with up to $224.58 per month for children under the age of eighteen. This benefit can certainly help families (especially low-income) to ease the difficulties of these financial challenges. Disability Credit Canada provides families with a guide to the benefit to help them understand and navigate the process. It’s also a supplemental payment for families who are eligible for the government’s Children’s Special Allowances (CSA). The amount of the Special Allowance can be as high as $160.00.
Still, parents of a child with a disability will have many decisions over the years that could also affect their financial status, such as surgical procedures, the need for adaptive technology, enrolling in various programs, and support in the home and the classroom. Additional research points out that parents of children with a disability consider their financial well-being their biggest concern. Over 52% of the parents in the study reported they worried about money more than anything else. A primary issue was the inability of the family to save for emergencies.
The Child Disability Benefit is one of those programs that provides real financial support. It demonstrates that Canada cares about the needs of children with disabilities and their parents. Families can begin the process by filling out the Disability Tax Credit Form – T2201. Programs like these are crucial to families who are caring for a child with a disability. These additional funds can serve in a multitude of practical ways so the family can cope more easily, connect more fully and enjoy each other as a family.
Disclosure: MomMomOnTheGo was provided compensation for the purpose of providing this guest post.
Photo Credits: Disability Credit Canada