One of the most significant barriers to accessing mental health treatment for children is cost. Cost is more than just service delivery fees (which can be extraordinary), but includes the expenses of travel, childcare for siblings, and time away from work. These financial burdens are considerable for most families, and can be debilitating for low income families. Yet, few policy makers and professionals recognize the profound financial impact associated with raising children with disabilities. Wediko not only offers intensive mental health services for low income children and families; our Executive Director, Amy C. Sousa, Ph.D., offers direction for community engagement in family economic policy.
In her article, “The Cost of Disability Advocacy: Adjusting the Self-Sufficiency Standard for Children with Disabilities,” recently published in the Journal of Children and Poverty, Dr. Sousa proposes a method for estimating the expenses of meeting children’s basic needs and advocating within the current disability system, with the goal of improving children’s eligibility for need-based supports and resources. Specifically, she proposes a method for assessing the differential costs of health care, education, transportation, housing, and child care associated with raising children with disabilities. She then details the cost of lost wages for working-age adults who scale back to part-time or leave the workplace all together to meet increased caregiving needs of children. She goes on to explore the unfunded, cultural mandate of parental advocacy within a web of organizations and institutions designed to help children with disabilities.
Wediko is committed to making services accessible for all children and families struggling with social, emotional, and learning challenges. We commend Dr. Sousa for shining a light on the mounting odds against low income families advocating for children’s disability services.
Wediko wants to know your reaction. Send comments, including new perspectives, to firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, check out Wediko’s Top Ten Tips for Reducing Barriers for Mental Health Treatment.
Interested in learning more? Read about low income parents’ advocacy strategies in Dr. Sousa’s previous article, “Crying Doesn’t Work: Emotion and Parental Involvement of Working Class Mothers Raising Children with Developmental Disabilities.”