Combatting the Costs of Exclusion for Children with Disabilities and Their Families

March 2021

Maria Alexandrova in a park near their apartment in Dabnika district of Vratsa, Bulgaria. Vratsa has many architectural barriers. Maria needs assistance most of the time.
UNICEF/UN0334677/Nabrdalik VII


Children with disabilities face many barriers that exclude them from society. Some stem from inaccessible infrastructure and information, some from policies and institutions, and others from discrimination, attitudes and societal norms. These barriers impose many costs on the lives of children with disabilities. Compared with other children, children with disabilities are less likely to receive an education, less likely to be employed as adults, less likely to start their own families and participate in community events, and more likely to live in poverty.

The exclusion of children with disabilities imposes costs on the whole community, too. 

This paper addresses the costs of the exclusion of children with disabilities, with a focus on the economic impact. Some costs, however, cannot be monetized. For others, while a dollar amount could be estimated, the data needed to do so is often unavailable. A growing body of research suggests that the costs of exclusion are high. Fortunately, evidence also demonstrates that there are effective ways to ameliorate these costs. A strong case can be made for the social and economic benefits of inclusion. 

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