Canberra, Australia — According to a new Australian study, every Australian dollar (A$) invested in early intervention services for deaf children produces almost two dollars’ worth of social, educational, vocational, and economic benefit.

The analysis, commissioned and launched by First Voice, a coalition of Australian hearing charities, showed that costs of early intervention programs, wages foregone by caregivers, costs of therapy, and costs of hearing devices were dwarfed by the long term benefits, such as higher incomes, reduction in disability, avoidance of extra school costs, and the likelihood of those who underwent therapy being in longer term paid work.

Using a 50-year horizon, the cost of early intervention services was estimated at A$203,307 in current dollar terms. while the lifelong benefit was conservatively estimated at A$382,894 in current dollar terms, delivering an overall benefit-to-cost ratio of 1.9:1.

First Voice chairperson, Dr Dimity Dornan, said the report provided the economic rationale for government investment in early intervention services for Australia’s deaf children.

He said, “We’ve known for some time that almost all of the hearing impaired children who participate in early programs that focus on listening and speaking go on to do well at mainstream schools. This report confirms the longer term economic and social benefits of that progress. These children end up in better jobs with higher salaries than they would have otherwise. It clearly shows they are avoiding the additional costs of special schools and the need for ongoing disability support,” said Dornan in the press statement.

The report assumed a government contribution of 40% of the operational costs, or around $6,000 per child per year, then goes on to conclude that “the [Australian] government is thus able to leverage private contributions to achieve an important social outcome with economic benefits that significantly exceed the government co-contribution.”

For more information and copies of the report, visit First Voice.

SOURCE: First Voice