A new study has revealed that households with children with disabilities experience additional costs ranging from 40% to 80% higher compared to households with children without disabilities, depending on the severity of the disability. When the additional costs are factored into the percentage of poor, it shows that children with disabilities are likely to experience levels of poverty that are 50% higher than other children.
The study titled “Cost of Raising Children with Disabilities in the Philippines,” It was released on Monday, December 5, during a public forum led by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Aside from high costs of raising children with disabilities, the study also found that there are systemic problems, such as lack of services for children, which lead to non-enrollment in school, missed treatment and health consultations, and lack of assistive devices. These factors have severely limited the development and participation of these children.
Citing the findings of the study, the DSWD emphasized the importance of poverty alleviation for the most vulnerable populations.
“The DSWD has been intervening, has been helping families with children with disabilities, however, we have to do some more, have to add more. We will help families with children with disability to lighten the burden of expenses. It is really expensive, particularly the maintenance, if you have a child or member of a family who has a disability,” it said.
Health expenditure for example, accounts for the largest source of additional costs, such as fees for consultations and therapies, drugs, and assistive devices, and their maintenance, followed by transportation and education.
Health spending for households with a disability card represents 10.7% of all consumption expenditure compared to 3.7% for those without a disability card.
Higher expenditure is also noted in households with a child with a disability card compared to other households, but the difference is relatively small at 5% compared to 4.2%. Despite the difference in education costs was small margin, the study noted that 31% of children with disabilities were not enrolled compared to 6% of households with other children.
According to UNICEF Philippines Representative Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov “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 (non-government organizations), and CSOs (civil society organizations) to make public policy work for children with disabilities and ensure that their voice is heard in legislation,”
The study recommended the provision of various support programs to families living with disabilities, such as disability allowance, to help them overcome financial barriers and achieve a comparable standard of living as households without disabilities. It also suggested that the government should include the additional costs of disability in establishing eligibility requirements for social protection programs and determining poverty rates.
The study was conducted by Oxford Policy Management with guidance from technical experts from DSWD and UNICEF and oversight from a Special Research Advisory Committee composed of experts from different government agencies. It was also supported by the Australian government and UNICEF Philippines,
Australian Embassy’s Counsellor for Development Mr. Thanh Le PSM. said that “Australia’s development programs prioritize the needs of the most vulnerable groups, including children with disabilities. And this is reflected in our partnership with the Philippines and our support for inclusive social protection,”
“This study is significant as it provides evidence and strategic directions on how children with disabilities from low-income households can have better access to quality programs and services. When we look after the needs of children with disabilities, we are helping them maximize their potential, increase their participation in society and move out of poverty,” he added.
The survey covered 240 cities/municipalities in all 17 regions and 69 provinces in Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao, and the National Capital Region.
A total of 2,753 interviews were conducted in two groups: households with children with disabilities who have a disability card and households with children without disabilities who live in the same areas.