Services for Newborns with Birth Injuries
Birth injuries are surprisingly common. Estimates suggest that approximately 1 out of every 9,700 infants in the country are born with a birth injury, translating to about 3 infants born with such an injury every hour. In general, birth injuries are preventable injuries that an infant sustains during pregnancy, labor, or sometime shortly after birth while the infant is receiving medical care. Thankfully, several government and private organizations offer assistance to families with infants suffering from birth injuries. Beyond government services, birth injury victims and their families may be able to obtain compensation if negligent healthcare providers failed to provide adequate care that led to their injuries. In essence, if a doctor, nurse, hospital, midwife, or another medical professional erred or failed to address complications and a birth injury could have been prevented if they had taken appropriate steps, they may be held liable for monetary damages. For additional information about compensation that may be available to your child with a birth injury in New Jersey, call 866-708-8617 or fill out an online form today.
What Services are Available for Children with Birth Injuries?
Social Security Benefits for Children with Birth Injuries
Although many people associate social security benefits with retirement, the United States Social Security Administration also provides Supplemental Security Income to families with children suffering from disabilities, including children affected by birth injuries. To receive monthly social security benefits, the parent of a disabled child must establish that their child qualifies. Children can qualify if they have been diagnosed with certain qualifying disabilities or conditions, although the child cannot be earning over about $1,000 per month. Additionally, the disability must be expected to last for at least one year (fatal illnesses qualify). Examples of commonly qualifying conditions are severe deafness, blindness, cerebral palsy, Down’s Syndrome, muscular dystrophy, low birth weight, and certain intellectual disorders affecting older children, among other qualifying disabilities. Social security income can thus provide a lifeline for families who have a child that suffered a birth injury.
Medical Resources for Babies with Birth Injuries
Federal insurance programs, including the Children’s Health Insurance Program (or CHIP) and Medicaid, offer insurance to families with children who have sustained birth injuries, provided that the parents meet certain income requirements, which vary from state to state. Given that research has established that the first three years are critical to treating birth injuries, children with one or more birth injuries may further qualify for an “Early Intervention Program.” These programs enable repeated visits to see doctors during these critical first few years after the birth injury occurs. They are designed to shield families from paying costly out-of-pocket fees for these visits.
Educational Services for Children with Disabilities
Federal law in the U.S.—specifically the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)—requires all states to offer state-funded special education programs and services for disabled children, including for children who sustained birth injuries. These programs provide millions of disabled children with Individualized Education Programs (or IEPs) that help them learn at their own pace as they receive specialized educational services.
To qualify for an IEP or other special educational services, a child must typically have one or more of the following conditions: severe emotional or behavioral issues, a visual or hearing impairment, language or speech impairment, a traumatic brain injury, a specific learning disability, orthopedic impairment, or autism. Often, conditions like cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy, and hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy include multiple symptoms that fall within eligibility requirements. Once a child has qualified for an IEP, they may gain access to programs beyond special education, including counseling, occupational and physical therapy, transportation assistance, and language or speech pathology.
Private Allied Organizations for Birth Injury Sufferers
Government organizations are not the only ones that offer resources to families with children affected by specific birth injuries. For example, United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) provides support for those affected by cerebral palsy, a common birth injury. UCP offers information to assist parents in finding their children therapy, education, child care, assisted technology training, recreational and social programs, early intervention programs, and even employment opportunities. Similarly, the United Brachial Plexus Network (UBPN) is a non-profit organization that offers resources to those affected by brachial plexus injuries, and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) provides resources and information related to Erb’s and cerebral palsy, as well as other brain and neurological birth injuries.