Children with Special Needs; Finding the Support You Need
By Nadia Ali
Immigrating to a new country can be a tough experience and more so when considering the needs of children with physical and developmental delays or disabilities. There are numerous programs and sources of funding available to improve the quality of life of disabled children however it is a tough experience to find all the resources available.
The first step would be to select a family doctor and get the child registered. Provide all past records and reports to the doctor. Depending on the disability / delay your child is experiencing, your doctor will refer you to a specialist for detailed testing and diagnosis. School-aged children with learning disabilities, speech impairment, ADHD, dyslexia, etc. who have had no diagnosis earlier, are identified by teachers when they struggle academically and referred to the school speech therapist or school psychologist for diagnosis.
Funding programs vary between provinces; each province has different programs geared towards helping parents who have one or more children with disabilities. For example; in Ontario, the provincial programs are Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities (ACSD), Special Services at Home (SSAH) and Provincial Assistive Devices Program (ADP). Application forms can be downloaded from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services website.
Children with delays / disabilities are also eligible to receive a monthly benefit in addition to Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB) amount that parents receive for every child. In order to quality, a medical practitioner must certify on the prescribed form: Form 2201 – Disability Tax Credit Certificate (available on the CRA website) that the child has a severe and prolonged impairment in physical or mental functions. Ask your doctor to fill the form and send the completed signed form to your tax centre. CRA will determine whether or not you are eligible to receive the disability tax credit and the Child Disability Benefit. Both, physical as well as developmental, disabilities and delays are eligible. For July 2015 to June 2016, the CDB is approximately $2,695 per year ($224.58 per month) for each child who is eligible for the disability amount. This payment will come to you with your CCTB amount as a single check.
The Disability Amount Tax Credit (or the ‘Disability Amount’) is a non-refundable tax credit that can be transferred to a family member, who supplies some or all of the basic necessities of life such as food, shelter and clothing to the person. This credit provides tax relief for individuals who have a severe and prolonged impairment in physical or mental functions by providing a credit against payable. This amount is not a physical payment, like the CDB, but is a tax credit that can be used to reduce your tax / increase your refund at the time of filing taxes.
The list of medical expenses you can claim at the time of filing taxes is very long and extensive, and also includes amounts you have spent for speech therapy, physical therapy, tutoring services, talking textbooks, devices or software to help your child’s learning, etc. Please keep all receipts and submit them to your the person who will be preparing your taxes at the time of filing to determine which ones you can claim. For financial assistance with treatment and therapy as well as costs of assistive devices, there are several agencies that help parents who may find it difficult to make ends meet. President’s Choice Children’s Charity, Jennifer Ashleigh Children charity, Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy, Easter Seals, etc. are all agencies that will provide funding for those in need to help with the cost of therapies. Proof of income and cost of therapy needs to be submitted along with application. Finally be sure to reach out to other mothers whom are in similar situations as you. There are many support groups for mothers. There are many activities and programs which can help get you out meeting new families and making new friends.
About the Author
Proud mom to a six year old boy, Nadia Ali has earlier worked with Ernst & Young as an auditor. She is now a tax professional at H&R Block and is looking forward to another busy tax season.