Special Needs Families Average $18K in Lost Income Annually

November 08, 2021

Family-Provided Medical Care Results in Less Family Employment 

According to a new article in Pediatrics, a significant number of caregivers of children with special needs reduce their work hours or stop working completely in order to manage challenges experienced at home. Forgone employment results in an average loss of $18,000 per year of income per special needs family. The paper also reports that approximately 15% of families with children with autism scaled back their participation in the workforce. For families who have a child with an additional intellectual disability, that figure increases to 40%. Altogether, the annual aggregate national estimates of lost earnings for special needs caregivers are $14-19 billion for those who worked full time and $9-14 billion for those who were employed part-time. To calculate these findings, the research team analyzed data from the federal government’s 2016-1017 National Survey of Children’s Health. Also highlighted in the report were factors that made forgone employment more likely. These factors include having a child under age 5, being Hispanic, being a younger female, living in poverty, participating in government assistance programs, and having no more than a high school diploma. Sadly, the article additionally demonstrated that caregivers who scaled back their work hours were more likely to spend over $5000 per year out-of-pocket on their child’s health care costs. In order to rectify this situation, the article’s authors made several suggestions including expanding paid family leave policies for those caring for chronic health conditions, providing daycare centers that can serve children with special health care needs, improved funding for pediatric home health services, and paid medical family caregiving programs. 

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