Sending your child with diabetes to school can be an unsettling process full of questions and concerns. Will they receive the care they need? Will their disease be managed throughout the day? What if there’s an emergency? Are there people nearby who are trained to assist them?
Ultimately, your hope is that the answer to all of these questions is “yes” and that your child is safe in the hands of their school’s staff. However, this takes preparation and planning, and sometimes, unfortunately, this still is not always the case. Budget cuts have left many schools without the ability to adequately train their staff in diabetic care, and some schools are being forced to operate without school nurses. Moreover, many schools feel intimidated by the legal implications of assisting in diabetes management and prevent students from getting the care they need out of fear of liability.
So what happens when disagreements about your child’s care arise? What do you do? How do you resolve the issue to make sure they are receiving quality care and quality education? Here are some tips for preventing these issues, as well as what to do if they do come up.
1. Be proactive
Alert school personnel of your son or daughter’s condition upon enrollment. Provide them with the information they need from a pre-established diabetes management plan that you work out with your child’s health care team. If possible, attempt to foster communication between their health care team and the school.
2. Provide accurate and updated supplementary information
In addition to having access to your child’s diabetes management plan and relevant health information, they should also have necessary emergency contact information and emergency care plans. Teachers and staff should be made aware of symptoms to recognize if your child is having a hyperglycemic or hypoglycemic episode.
3. Know your child’s rights
It is important to familiarize yourself with laws pertaining to your child’s legal rights, such as Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Oftentimes, explaining the issue to school administrators in terms of your child’s rights can quickly resolve any problem.
4. Foster communication
This is an important key to ensuring your child is receiving adequate care. Not only will you need to continuously monitor your child’s health while at school, including tracking stock of their diabetes management supplies, you will need to inform them if there are any changes in your son or daughter’s medical condition or diabetes management plan. This respectful communication will also make it easier to negotiate for change if you find yourself dissatisfied with your child’s quality of care while at school.
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If you think your child’s rights are being violated, an administrative complaint or lawsuit is also an option. There are ample resources available for legal advice through the America Diabetes Association’s Legal Advocates.