How children with special health care needs affect the employment decisions of low-income parents

Matern Child Health J. 2004 Sep;8(3):171-82. doi: 10.1023/b:maci.0000037650.83572.81.


Objectives: To better understand the impact of having a child with special health care needs (CSHCN), on low-income parents' employment decisions.

Methods: Using data from the 1999 and 2000 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), we estimate multivariate statistical regressions (logit and tobit models) to estimate the relationship between having a CSHCN and the likelihood of employment and hours of employment for a sample-of low-income single parents.

Results: Controlling for differences in demographic and family characteristics, we find no significant association between having a CSHCN and the probability of work or the number of hours worked among low-income single-parent families. Separate analysis of different dimensions of special health care needs shows that parents of children with activity limitations are significantly less likely to work and work fewer hours. This result does not hold true for the group of children defined based on elevated or special service use, or for the group of children with specific chronic conditions.

Conclusions: These results indicate that only a specific subset of children with special needs present difficulties for low-income parents' work. This suggests that policies to help low-income single parents of children with disabilities move into work should target this specific subset of children with special health care needs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Decision Making*
  • Disabled Children*
  • Employment / psychology*
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Socioeconomic Factors