Donna R. Miles, Michael J. Steiner, Karen J. Luken, Michael R. Sanderson, Tamera Coyne-Beasley, Harry Herrick, Elizabeth Mizelle, Carol A. Ford
Published online: April 22, 2011
Research on children raised by adults with disability is limited. Our goal was to provide a profile of the health and educational status of children raised by a caregiver with disability.
In 2007-2008, 4571 adults completed the North Carolina Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) and Child Health Assessment Monitoring Program (CHAMP) surveys. Analyses using weighted data provided population-based health/educational status comparisons of children (0 to 17 years old) raised by caregivers with and without disability.
Twenty-three percent of caregivers reported disability. Rates of insurance coverage and preventive care did not differ by caregiver disability status, although children of caregivers with disability were more likely to have publicly funded insurance. The majority of children of caregivers with disability were in excellent/very good health (70%), healthy weight (58%), and making above-average grades (74%). Nonetheless, children raised by caregivers with disability appear to be at disproportionately higher risk for overall poorer outcomes. Children raised by caregivers with disability were more likely to be in fair/poor health (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 2.2; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.3 to 3.6), overweight/obese (aOR = 1.5, 95% CI 1.1-2.0), need medical/educational services (aOR = 2.0, 95% CI 1.5-2.6), have lower grades (aOR = 1.9, 95% CI 1.4-2.5), and higher rates of school absenteeism (aOR = 2.4, 95% CI 1.8-3.4), compared to children of caregivers without disability.
Children raised by a caregiver with disability show good overall wellness; however, caregiver disability status was found to be associated with an increased risk for poor child health and educational outcomes. Future research is needed to clarify the causes of these disparities and inform policies to alleviate them.