The crisp fall days of a new school year are fast approaching, and while children across the country are picking up new Superman backpacks and Sponge Bob Square Pants lunch boxes, the families of kids with diabetes have a longer list of supplies to gather, tasks to complete and concerns to address.
Many of the more than 200,000 children with diabetes in America have no support system in school when they need insulin or face a diabetes emergency. Parents of children with diabetes know that diabetes must be managed 24/7 in order for children to thrive and to avoid potentially life threatening complications. That includes the many hours their children spend at school, on field trips and in extracurricular activities. Some families of children with diabetes have confidence that when they kiss their child goodbye in the morning, the school is ready to provide the diabetes care that their child needs. Other families worry that their child won’t have access to good diabetes management and that their child will be excluded from activities or have to take an exam when blood glucose levels are plummeting.
The American Diabetes Association’s Safe at School® campaign is dedicated to making sure all children with diabetes are medically safe at school and have the same educational opportunities as their classmates. The campaign offers the tools needed to provide diabetes care at school, helping families and school personnel to develop plans to prevent problems from occurring and by providing expert help and guidance to families. When problems do occur, the Association has a team of dedicated lawyers, health care professionals and other advocates ready to find solutions.
Scrambling for information at this time of year can be hectic, so here’s a brief back -to-school checklist for starting your child’s year off on the right foot:
1. Stay informed. To learn about state and federal laws protecting students with diabetes, as well as available training resources and tips for resolving challenges in school, see diabetes.org/schooldiscrimination.
2. Put together a draft Section 504 Plan or Individualized Education Program (IEP). Get schooled on 504 plans with this article from Diabetes Forecast magazine. You can also see a sample 504 Plan at diabetes.org/504plan.
3. Make sure you have a Diabetes Medical Management Plan (DMMP). Click here for a sample DMMP.
4. Meet with school staff to discuss the DMMP and come to agreement on the Section 504 Plan or IEP. These documents must specify who will provide diabetes care for your child.
To learn more about Safe at School and how you can help keep children with diabetes medically safe, visit http://diabetes.org/safeatschool or call 1-800-DIABETES for information and help.