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Income support for parents of children with chronic conditions and disability: where do we draw the line? A policy review

Abstract

Objective The aim of this review was to identify and describe whether parents who have had to stop paid employment to care for a child with a chronic condition or disability are eligible for unemployment, family and children, and disability and carer government-provided financial benefits.

Design Policy review.

Setting Group of seven high-income countries.

Main outcome measures All policies related to unemployment, family and children, and disability and carer benefits were included. Information regarding the policy type and description, parent/carer qualification, amount of financial support payable, eligibility criteria and information source were extracted. Payment schedules were converted into 2020 US dollars, using Purchasing Power Parities. Maximum monthly benefit payments were compared with standardised per capita monthly costs of living to determine payment support suitability.

Results Fifty-eight policies relevant to unemployment, family and children, and disability and carer benefit supports were identified. Germany had the highest number of welfare policies for individuals not in employment (n=11), followed by the USA (n=6). Parents or carers of children with chronic conditions or disability who were not in employment qualified for 31 of the 58 policies (53.4%). Most policies required a child to have an impaired ability to function, not just a chronic condition or disability.

Conclusions Greater support for parents and carers to continue their paid employment alongside caring responsibilities is necessary. Graded benefit schedules will also be critical to supporting the spectrum of childhood chronic conditions and disability, and the subsequent spectrum of caring responsibility.

  • child health
  • child welfare

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplemental information.

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