I’m glued to the TV today watching the Congressional drama around Biden’s Infrastructure Bill. Historically, I have identified as a progressive on social welfare issues. Not just a working parent, I’m a parent of a special needs kid. So, I know first hand how badly we need better social supports for working mothers and caretakers. Go back in the archives on this blog, and you’ll see hundreds of blog posts about the need for greater childcare, better special education, and support for adults with disabilities.
During the pandemic, I got burned. My friends and I have never gotten a whole lot from the government for raising special needs kids, beyond some dark basement classrooms in town public schools. In March 2020, what little we had, disappeared. For two years, we have been filling the vacuum in services with private help and our own home cooked efforts. We watched our children regress. Unable to work, because many people with special needs can never be left alone, we were completely ignored by the federal government, local government, and the community.
Some local public schools and programs for young adults with disabilities STILL have not opened.
So, what is Biden’s bill going to do for us?
If he provides money for childcare, do parents who care for their children at home also get compensated? A lot of daycares don’t take kids like mine. When Ian was three, he was kicked out of three daycares, before I bribed a local crappy place another $1,000 per month to take him. I had just taken a new job and I needed two afternoons of help. I was going into the college and giving lectures with two hours of sleep, so I was desperate. It’s really, really hard to work and to find childcare if your kid is disabled, so pay the parents who stay at home. Does Biden’s bill do that? Nah.
Does any of the money in Biden’s bill go directly to parents with special needs kids? No. It goes to local organizations and bureaucracies instead — some of which are still not working. Not a cent goes directly to the families.
In a recent newsletter, I wrote:
Throughout this pandemic, disabled people and their families were completed ignored by government. Not only were existing programs shuttered, but there was no recognition for the unique and extreme challenges as government scrambled to provide some compensations. Biden’s much lauded Family Tax Credits did not provide parents with special needs children more money, even though their children have much more expensive needs.
Money has been raining down from the government for two years. I know people who are making more from unemployment and other COVID benefits than they did before the pandemic. But I have not seen one benefit for my kid and others like him. We have no new programs, no supplementation for our out-of-pocket expenses, not even a “sorry.” I hear horror stories every day from parents who are struggling to cope with high needs caretaking.
Show me the money getting into the right hands, and I’ll be in the front lines supporting the big number that progressives are touting. But the pandemic has made me into a cynic. I want to see outcomes.