While any household with a special needs child needs to manage extra expenses on top of normal living costs, early preparation can help.
Australia’s NDIS aims to fund ‘reasonable and necessary’ supports for people living with a disability. Some parents have requested more – wanting the best for their child, but often this is not possible which has seen parents reach into their own pockets. Some parents have also reduced their working hours or quit altogether to care for their child. Dealing with extra costs and less income has considerable impacts on a family’s budget.
Costs of care
The costs of raising a special needs child can vary dramatically depending on the disability and severity (e.g. a child with down syndrome will require different budget and supports to a child with a hearing impairment).
Below are some budgeting considerations.
> Supports: Services & Equipment
As the NDIS operates on the mission to provide greater choice and control, participants now have more freedom than ever to look beyond large and traditionally bulk-funded public and non-profit providers for disability services and equipment. With that freedom when budgeting, consider requirements for:
– private and specialist services
– additional services
– different types of services (e.g. therapy versus lifestyle)
– tailored modifications to homes or cars
– in-home care and support
– customer service and experience
– convenience (e.g. one-stop shop for occupational therapy and speech pathology)
– waiting times
As well as disability specific supports, children living with a disability also need access to a range of mainstream health services (e.g. paediatric services and medicine). Therefore it is also important for parents to understand the range of supports outside of the disability sector not covered by an NDIS plan when budgeting.
> Collateral: Time
Aside from the cost of actual supports aside, one of the biggest collateral costs is time – an investment that exerts its own financial stress. It takes time to find, push for and coordinate supports. Not infrequently, parents reduce their working hours, turn down promotions or quit altogether to keep up with the extra demands of a child with special needs. Some parents find themselves unable to afford taking time off. Other time-poor parents source extra help for things other than disability supports, such as house cleaning.
This article provides a brief summary to outline the main considerations for parents who are budgeting for a child with a disability: cost of supports and time.
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