Top 5 Tips to Ensure Your Child's Safety at School
1. Educate yourself and your child. Knowledge is an important key to managing diabetes.
2. Talk to all relevant school personnel. Start with the principal and school teachers, all the way through to the bus driver. Share important information regarding the progress of your child's diabetes self-management activities.
3. Get ongoing support. Speak openly and frequently to your diabetes health care team (physician, nurse educator, dietitian, social worker, psychologist). Share experiences with other families living with diabetes. Join a support group.
4. Provide ample supplies and equipment. Don't only ensure that all the necessary tools are available to your child; know that they're accessible.
5. Know your resources. Parents are their child's No. 1 advocate. Know your legal rights - be patient but diligent. The Diabetes Research Institute Foundation, American Diabetes Association, National Diabetes Education Program and other organizations and websites are invaluable resources to parents.
A Multilevel Approach
As school enrollments grow, so do the health care needs of children in schools. Unfortunately, there has not been equivalent increase in the supply of school nurses, and in fact, many schools operate without full-time school nurses largely due to budgetary restraints. Individual attention to students is often not possible. Clearly, diabetes management in school requires a multilevel approach.
Even if your child has access to a full-time school nurse, the 24/7 nature of diabetes requires that your child and all of his/her caregivers are ready to respond to routine or emergency care needs - eg., field trips, athletic/sporting events, bus rides to and from home, etc. Open and frequent communication between the child, parents and school personnel is essential to the child's success - scholastically, socially and in terms of his/her diabetes management outcomes.
There are sederal and state laws to help protect students with diabetes. It is important to compare federal and state requirements for:
- Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)
- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
- Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA)
- Family and Medical Leave Act
- Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
It is absolutely essential that parents be aware of the child and their federal and state legal rights. Essentially, the school cannot discriminate against a child with diabetes (disability) and is required to make reasonable changes in its practices and policies to avoid discrimination - to allow children to participate with equal opportunity unless doing so poses "undue burden." Public schools prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability regardless of whether they receive federal funds. Private entities receiving federal funding may not exclude a child with diabetes if the school can make minor amendments to provide an appropriate education. Private, nonreligious schools are covered by Title III of the ADA.