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Recession Adding Burden on Families with Disabled Kids

Susan Parish

Susan Parish

The recession  is adding a greater financial burden to some of our nation’s most vulnerable families — those with disabled children.

More than a quarter of low-income families are spending three percent of their total household income on their disabled children’s health care needs, according to a study from social work researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. Read the full story here.

That adds up to about $1,200 a year for a family of four living at the federal poverty level, said Susan Parish, Ph.D., an associate professor at the UNC School of Social Work and lead study investigator. That may not sound like much, but is a big expense for poorer families, she said.

“The current recession makes the situation for families much worse,” said Parish, who is a member of the National Association of Social Workers. ” We must consider what families are forgoing if they are spending such a high proportion of their income on their children.”

Some may be struggling to pay for housing and food, researchers said.


To find out how social workers help people with disabilities visit the NASW’s “Help Starts Here” Disabilities Web page.

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  1. Dr. Susan Parish, lead study investigator of this project at UNC School of Social Work finds that the country’s economic recession is a significant finacial stressor on families who have disabled children. Having to choose between paying for medical care, medication, housing and food is an unacceptable situation.

    E. A. Wahrburg, MSW, LCSW (NC & NY)

  2. I find that it is the trend to blame our country’s inability to adequately deal with dependency and/or special needs on whatever current crisis is at hand. The fact is, disabled individuals struggle on a day to day basis with having their needs met regardless of the economy.

  3. I think we are also seeing some signs of recovery from the economic recession. Of course, we have no idea of how long it will take to completely recover, but some say it’s going to be longer than for the other recessions in decades. I also scanned an article yesterday that said business owners need a new set of tactics to do well during recovery.

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