Income Security Policy Paper No. 16

The Cost of Caring: Childhood Disability and Poor Families

Marcia K. Meyers, Anna Lukemeyer, and Timothy M. Smeeding

July 1997 

Abstract:  Children in poor families are at heightened risk for disabilities and chronic health problems, and care for these children can impose substantial costs on families and public programs. Although the prevalence and costs of disabilities among poor children have important policy implications, they have been largely overlooked in research on poverty and welfare and on the costs of childhood disabilities. This paper analyzes the prevalence of childhood disabilities and chronic illness among welfare recipient families in California and the probability families caring for these children experience higher out-of-pocket costs and material hardship then do other similar families.

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