By Catherine Kalchbrenner
When a child ages out of Early Intervention it may become necessary to pay for device upgrades, accessories or services on our own. With improvements in technology and wear and tear on devices, upgrading is generally recommended every few years. Early Intervention services (Speech Language Pathologists, Teachers of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Sign Language Instructors, Deafblind Consultants etc.) will have given your child and family a great start, but sometimes we choose to pay privately for additional services. Paying out of pocket can be challenging!
Some tips and things to consider:
- The BC Early Hearing Program (BCEHP) provides supplemental funding for early language services. Hearing equipment is tailored to the baby’s needs such as funding for the first set of hearing aids for children under five years of age, earmolds and batteries are funded for three years or until the child turns five, whichever comes first. For more information, see the BCEHP Parent Resource Guide: http://www.phsa.ca/bc-early-hearing/Documents/BCEHP-ParentResourceGuide.pdf
- You may be eligible to receive the disability tax credit: (www.cra-arc.gc.ca/bnfts/dsblty-eng.html) – There are certain criteria one must meet and the application process is quite involved but is definitely worth looking into.
- If it is possible for you to do, you may want to put aside some money each month to pay for future repairs and replacements of hearing devices. If that is not financially possible, consider researching potential charity funding sources (see list near bottom of page).
- Provincial Deaf Hard of Hearing Services begins providing their services in the year your child starts Kindergarten and includes American Sign Language instruction and Family Navigators: Deaf & Hard of Hearing – Province of British Columbia (gov.bc.ca)
- The Deaf Well-Being Program funds some mental health services for Deaf, Hard of Hearing and DeafBlind people of all ages, and their family members in BC: Home – VCH Deaf Well Being
- Check to see if your employer’s extended health plan pays for hearing aids or cochlear implant upgrades. In some cases hearing aid batteries can be purchased and covered as “medical equipment”. The coverage is often limited, but it can help.
- Some extended health plans pay for certain specialists such as Speech Language Pathologists, Audiologists and Psychologists.
- If your child has additional medical or support needs and qualifies for At Home Program or Autism funding, a variety of therapies, equipment and devices may also be covered.
There are also some possible charity funding sources for families in BC. Eligibility may depend on family income, and the criteria of these groups may change over time, but it can be worth looking into:
- Elks & Royal Purple https://elksfundforchildren.com/
- Variety https://www.variety.bc.ca/
- Kiwanis https://kfcdn.org/
- Rotary Clubs in your area
- CKNW https://www.cknwkidsfund.com/
Do you know of any others? Please get in touch with us so we can keep this list up to date!