A new study by the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the United Nations Children’s Fund, supported by the Australian Government, has found that households with children with disabilities incur extra costs at 40 to 80 percent higher than those without, depending on the severity of the disability.
The extra costs, when factored into poverty rates or the percentage of the poor, show that children with disabilities are likely to experience poverty rates at 50 percent higher than other children.
The study entitled “Cost of Raising Children with Disabilities in the Philippines” is the first such undertaking in the country to understand how much it costs families to raise children with disabilities.
Alongside the steep costs of raising children with disabilities are systemic problems, such as inadequate services for children, that lead to failure to enroll in school, forgone health treatment and consultations, and lack of assistive devices, which severely limit their development and participation.
Overall, the study found that families with children with disabilities incur a higher cost of living expenses. Health expenditure accounts for the largest source of extra costs, followed by transportation and education. The study also noted that 31 percent of children with disabilities were not enrolled in schools compared to 6 percent in other households.
“The situation of children with disabilities has long challenged the way we approach inclusiveness in development and nation-building. This study comes at a time when we are recovering from a pandemic that has exacerbated pre-existing difficulties for vulnerable children. UNICEF calls on government and development partners, NGOs and CSOs to make public policy work for children with disabilities and ensure that their voice is heard in legislation,” UNICEF Philippines Representative Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov said.
The study recommended providing support to affected families such as disability allowance, to help overcome financial barriers and attain comparable living standards as households without disabilities. It added that government should add the extra costs of disability in establishing eligibility requirements for social protection programs and determining poverty rates.
Families with disabilities already face enough challenges. Additional support from government will go a long way in giving those families and the children with disabilities an equal chance of success and extricating themselves from poverty. Although the study just confirmed it, this is an obvious fact that we should have acted on long ago.*