When a child has JIA, the financial impact on the family can be quite significant. The expected and visible expenses include:
- paying for medications and equipment
- expenses related to medical appointments such as transportation, parking, and meals
- paying for childcare
- lost wages from work because of medical appointments or flare-ups
There are other 'hidden' costs that may not initially seem financial in nature. They can cause a financial impact over the long term. For example, if parents use up all of their vacation time from work to care for their child, they won't be able to take time off for themselves or for the family. This can lead to depression, stress-related illness, and other physical and mental health issues. These illnesses could have a financial impact on the family later on, causing a parent to need more time off work for treatment. Also, if a parent takes a lot of time off work, she could be passed over when it comes time for a promotion. Or a parent may be unable to accept a higher-paid position because of less flexibility with work hours.
Coping with work and a child's JIA
Some employers are more flexible than others when it comes to allowing time off to care for a sick child. Here are some tips for parents when coping with work:
- Communicate with your employer and see if there is a way to negotiate time off work without loss of pay. Your job might allow make-up time on weekends, or working an hour later each day to take time off, with pay, for an appointment.
- Your employer might allow you to take sick time to care for your child.
- Your workplace might let you do some of your work from home via computer.
- If available, ask to see your human resources representative and to let her know what's going on. Your human resources representative will know what can be done in your workplace to best accommodate your needs.
- If you are having problems with your employer related to your child's JIA, ask to speak with the social worker or counsellor attached to your child's health care team.
- You can also call the Ministry of Labour. They can clarify your rights as an employee and will inform you of your employer's legal obligations
Accessing other resources
There may be other financial resources available in the community, such as government assistance with medication coverage if you do not have private medical insurance. Speak with the doctor or other members of the health care team.
See the following website to learn which medical expenses you may be eligible to claim as tax deductions: The Canada Revenue Agency - Which Medical Expenses are Eligible.
This website discusses what parents are eligible for in terms of claiming medical expenses. It may also help to keep receipts from hospital stays and hospital appointments (such as parking/food costs) to see which receipts parents are eligible to claim. For example, if the family lives a certain distance from the hospital, parents may be able to claim parking expenses.