If there is one thing I’ve noticed over the years, parents of children with disabilities are extremely determined individuals. We fight hard and pursue every option until we get our children the best possible treatment or service. Lack of funding, staff, understanding of our children, and so on, prevents us from giving our children what they need quickly and easily. We are frequently forced to look elsewhere for help. In rural areas, there are even fewer options and the ones that are there, might not be suitable. So, we travel hundreds of kilometres away in the hopes of improving our child’s life.
I’ve done a few long trips now for services my daughter could not get at home. As always, it’s a struggle to cover the enormous financial burden it can place on a family. Here are a number of options to assist with travel costs that you may not be aware of. Some of these options are available for anyone with a disability.
At Home Program Medical Benefits - If your child is on this program, you may be able to get funding for some of your travel costs if the trip is medically related. This includes air, accommodations, and trips by vehicles, tolls, and parking to destinations outside of your hometown. Remember to keep any receipts not covered for your yearly taxes. If you do not have the At Home Program in your area, check your provincial government or state listings for child and family services in your area.
Hope Air is a Canadian Charity providing free flights to people who cannot afford airline tickets to get medical expertise that often only exist in urban centres.
Miracle Flights helps low income families of seriously ill children or children with debilitating diseases access proper care, treatment and second opinions. This is for US children only.
WestJet OPOF (One person one fare) program offers an additional seat at no charge (taxes only) to guests with a disability who require a personal attendant (that includes parents -see criteria) or require an additional seat to accommodate their disability.
Air Canada notes that if a person with a disability requires an attendant, the attendant may be able to get a reduced fare.
I have not flown many US airlines, but I did do a bit of research on this. Unfortunately, I didn’t come across any thus far that offer a reduced or free fare for a person with a disability travelling with an attendant. It’s still probably worth a phone call to their reservations department should you absolutely have to fly on a US carrier.
Greyhound Bus Line may offer a 50% discount on a personal care attendant ticket (PCA).
Easter Seal has a Disability Travel Card for reduced fares allowing persons with a permanent disability to travel with an attendant on Motor Coach Lines that participate in the program and Via Rail.
If you receive therapy through a family services organization, try asking them if they have a travel fund or if they have any other suggestions.
That’s all for now. If I find out more information, I’ll definitely keep you posted.