According to the Washington Post, a recent study shows that the family members of children with disabilities personally provide care for their children that would otherwise cost billions of dollars if it was instead provided by home health aides. The study estimates that approximately 5.6 million children with special needs receive about 1.5 billion hours a year of unpaid care from their family members. These numbers underscore the amount of time and effort these families spend in taking care of their children. While certainly caring for one’s child with a disability can be rewarding, the amount of hours it takes to care for a child with a disability can also have a negative impact on families and can result in lost earnings, financial problems, and other stresses to the family as a whole.
It should be noted that without the efforts of these parents and other family caregivers, the health-care system would be unable to function and the health and welfare of the child would likely suffer. But what does this mean for our clients with family members who are disabled? They themselves need support in this vital role. While there is always a push for leaner government and paring down of government subsidies and programs, it is clear that without the time put in by these parents, there would certainly be a crisis of care for disabled children in this country. Lawmakers should take this seriously when considering where to cut government spending. This is an area where cutting support to families with Special Needs children could end up making things worse by failing to support the individuals responsible for the bulk of the caregiving.