Children with disabilities should access tax benefits through their parents

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According to the National Special Needs Education Survey 2016, the prevalence of disability amongst children (0-21 years old) is 13.5%. This translates to approximately 3.5M children, representing just over 8% of the Kenyan population.

This is a significant proportion whose wellbeing and future contribution to the development of our country should not be ignored during policy formulation.

Over the last decade, the government has implemented several initiatives to help protect the rights of children and to increase access to education by Children with Disabilities (CWDs). These measures include legislations such as The Basic Education Act of 2014, establishment of a directorate of special education in the ministry of education, introduction of special schools and increased deployment of special needs teachers.
Others include the priceless efforts of The National Council of Persons with Disabilities in the provision of sunscreen lotion for children with albinism, education assistance, and assistive devices for CWDs. Additionally, in January this year, as part of the implementation of free secondary education, the government significantly increased the allocations for CWDs.

However, despite these laudable efforts by the government, unlike their adult counterparts, CWDs in Kenya continue to face exclusion and discrimination. A lot remains to be done to completely eradicate this discrimination against CWDs and to help them achieve their full potential. In particular, the implementation of the Persons with Disabilities Act and the constitutional provisions on equality and freedom from discrimination have left out a critical aspect that would significantly improve the welfare of CWDs – support for parents of such children.

Whereas the Persons with Disabilities (Income Tax Deductions and Exemptions) Order, 2010 provides various tax benefits to people living with disabilities and their businesses, the same are not extended to parents of CWDs. By failing to extend these benefits enjoyed by Adults with Disabilities to the primary caregivers of CWDs, the government, and its agencies, have indirectly participated in unequal treatment of persons with disabilities.
In addition to the physical and emotional challenges faced in raising a disabled child, families who care for CWDs incur an inarguably high financial burden. The cost of providing proper care and treatment for such children stretches many families beyond their means. These costs may be as high as three times more the cost of raising a child without a disability. In addition, studies have shown that parents of children with disabilities were more likely to experience depression and distress than parents of children without disabilities.

Moreover, other studies have shown a strong link between poverty and disabilities. Families with CWDs are likely to have a single source of income since in extreme cases parents have had to exit employment, reduce the number of hours worked or adjust work schedules in order to take care of their CWDs. As one Kenyan parent stated in a report by leonardchesire.org report, having a child with a disability “is when poverty knocks on your door”. It doesn’t have to be so.

Managing conditions such as Autism, Dyslexia, Cerebral Palsy, Epilepsy, Hearing and Visual impairments calls for specialized care, drugs, therapy equipment and fittings, and a myriad of other lifestyle expenses, all of which are expensive to procure. For example, the cost of bilateral cochlear implants for a child with profound hearing impairments is in the range of Sh 7Million in local hospitals. This excludes the cost of regular therapy sessions and replacements for accessories.

While their adult colleagues are exempted from paying duty for importation of vehicles modified for their use or assistive devices like wheelchairs, walking sticks etc, CWDs have no means of accessing such exemptions. It’s the high time we made the necessary amendments in law to enable these children to access appropriate benefits through their parents.

The government support for provision of skin care products to people living with albinism has gone a long way in alleviating their quality of life. Similar support for children suffering from other forms of disabilities should be considered.

As the country enters the penultimate stage of the budget preparation cycle for the 2018-19 budget, I invite the nominated MPs who represent persons with disability and the youth to bring to the fore the fate of parents of CWDs. I call upon Isaac Mwaura, David Sangok, DenitaGhati, Getrude Musuruve, Gideon Keter, Prengei Victor, and Mercy Chebenito lobby their colleagues in parliament to come to the aid of these discriminated children.

Yes, life can be challenging for many CWDs and their families, but a little help will make their lives more bearable.

James M. Gathenya
Nairobi County
[email protected]

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  • Mqt

    I hate Valentine’s too…my BF and I don’t celebrate it. I think it’s such a waste!!

  • Mandazimbili

    LOL …ATI MANUFACTURED DAY..GUDONE

  • Anonymous

    I went with the worthless SMS. Let’s wait for the consequence.

    • Polkot

      I too went SMS and she is yet to call me. My calls are not answered! Surely, choices have consequences.

  • Williewonka

    can some one tell me what valentine is again ….cos i dont get it

  • Chelseamcennah

    i hate valentine cz my guy is in nai n am in coasto n theaz no way we can spend valz together …the distance js destroys everything

  • Samson

    Valentine is CRAP

  • valentines is a day like another !! i think all this hype by the media just makes it worse ! LOL

  • xris.

    Like every other guy, I Loath Valentines day! What’s worse
    is going out on this day & your venue of choice becomes a living nightmare!

    Yesterday, my wife & I happened to be in Buru, & since the wife had
    earlier seen an ad in the papers by Jimlyzer, we decided to check it out,( the
    Bar & Restaurant that’s to left of the Main Hotel.) We entered & sat
    for more than 30mins without a single waiter in sight. Everyone was by now
    complaining. I took it upon myself to go look for one at the main counter &
    there I met several other agitated Men in my situation. The bar man, who was
    the only person here concerned about his clients, has a landline phone by his
    side & made desperate attempts to call staff to assist but to no anvil.
    When all this was happening the Manger/ Supervisor was busy animatedly chatting
    up the lady who roasts mutura just at the main bar, completely oblivious to his
    customers’ plight!!

    Downstairs at the butchery was worse, since the waiters seemed to be either on
    strike or determined to frustrate their guests, there was no one to deliver the
    meat upstairs, so we were gathered there, taking the meat ourselves!!

    My job entails that I travel quite a bit, so I have been to the remotest part
    of Kenya & other countries like India, but even in the remotest village, I
    have NEVER seen such pathetic, gross indiscipline & complete lack of
    customer care as this, not even in the Dingyst join!!! To say that the service
    here was bad would be an understatement, it was Pathetic!!The owner of this
    joint either has personal unsettled Domez with his staff, or something else is
    seriously wrong with this Bar & Restaurant! Why spend money placing ads. for
    your Restaurant only to frustrate your clients!? The advert should have read ”Jim
    lies to you on Valentine!!” Shame on you, Jimlies, SHAME ON YOU!! Please sack
    you entire Staff, starting with your so called Mgr!!

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