Everyone knows having kids is an expensive business. However, parenting a child with special needs come with many additional financial costs.
Depending on your child’s diagnosis, costs can include, but are not limited to, assessments, medical interventions, therapy and educational support. Then there are costs associated with transport, resources and equipment.
Some parents are also unable to work due to the care needs of their child. This can make the financial burden even greater.
Mother of three, Kirsty Russell from Positive Special Needs Parenting knows firsthand the expenses associated with being a special needs parent. She says being organised goes a long way to keeping on top of expenses and helps with budgeting.
“Keep paperwork together so you don’t lose referrals and keep account of expenses,” Kirsty recommends. “Incorporate as much as you can into your budget and try to keep a contingency fund to deal with unexpected costs.”
When it comes to managing the costs associated with special needs parenting essentially, the more groundwork you do, the better off you will be.
Here are some tips to help you:
Research your entitlements
There are a number of government payments and schemes available that can help with costs, including:
- Better Start for Children with a Disability
- GP Mental Health Treatment Plan
- Chronic Disease Management – Individual Allied Health Services
- Carer Allowance
- Carer Gateway
Talk to your GP, as well as your child’s school or care provider regarding any additional funding your child may be entitled to.
Weigh Up Public vs Private
As mentioned above, Medicare do offer additional rebates for certain diagnoses and treatments, through schemes such as the GP Health Plans. The public health system also offers comprehensive assessment, treatment and follow up services. However, there is usually a considerable waitlist for these services.
Private health insurance funds can also provide rebates on a wide range of services including therapies and therapy aides. The level of cover and amount of rebate available for each service varies widely. It is wise to research extensively to ensure the out-of-pocket expenses do not outweigh health insurance premium costs. Check things such as preferred providers and no-gap providers for the health funds in your area. It is also important to note there can still be a wait to access private practitioners.
Look for alternatives
Sometimes there are alternative services available that may be a more cost-friendly option. For example, clinics at major universities conduct assessments, courses and other services at a lower price as students undertake the work under the supervision of qualified practitioners. They often also have concession discounts.
Sometimes community organisations can even help with funding for aids and education expenses.
A great resource for recommendations, information and ideas are support groups, online communities and Facebook groups.
“I sought online support as my immediate family and friends didn’t have first-hand knowledge of what we were dealing with,” Kirsty explains. “I’m a member of Facebook groups that have helped me with recommendations and suggested alternative ways to help my kids. I don’t know where I’d be without them.”
The Positive Special Needs Parenting Facebook page is also a great place to start.
Managing the financial costs associated with parenting a child with special needs can be stressful and sometimes overwhelming, but hopefully a few of these tips can help relieve some of the pressure.