Diabetes-safe at school

American Diabetes Association works with MSU Extension to offer families advice to help keep children safe at school.

Michigan State University Extension has begun to work closely with the American Diabetes Association (ADA) to offer information from the ADA’s Safe at School program. MSU Extension’s Health and Nutrition Institute offers many diabetes programs to help our communities citizens live with or prevent Diabetes. Recently, a team of MSU Extension educators and ADA professionals came to the table to discuss how the two groups could work together in the world of diabetes education for families with children diagnosed with type 1 (T1) or type 2 (T2) diabetes.

As we all know, children spend most of their daytime hours in school, so it’s imperative that schools work with diabetic children and their families. School administrators and teaching staff are extremely busy, and it is difficult to know everything about dealing with each issue or condition a child may exhibit. This is where the Safe at School information comes in handy to educate families afflicted with diabetes about their child’s rights and how to work with the school to have a plan in place for their child’s safety at school. This information is used by the school to help understand a diabetic child, make a plan and having the school be aware of student’s rights under federal and state laws.

The law protects children with diabetes through the 504 Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which prohibits programs receiving federal funding (public schools, many private and religious schools) from treating children with disabilities, like diabetes, unfairly. This means children with disabilities should be included in all school programming and attend school with their health conditions taken in to account. Diabetes falls under the term “disability” because of the inability to produce insulin causing a malfunctioning endocrine system which negatively affects bodily functions, which can be life threatening. This disability makes children eligible for 504 status within their school; they do not need academic difficulty to meet the 504 status. The ADA has information at diabetes.org/504plan or 1-800-DIABETES (800- 342-2383) to help parents or guardians make a plan to ensure a child’s health needs are met at school.

Along with federal laws protecting children, there are state laws protecting the fair treatment of children with disabilities, including diabetes. Contacting the ADA at the above number or website could help families make a plan with their child’s school to make sure all processes are in place for their child’s health requirements while at school. Doctors and diabetes educators working with the child are beneficial for help during school and can help with a Diabetes Medical Management Plan (DMMP), and it should be part of a Section 504 Plan or Individualized Education Program or IEP.

Being a parent is never easy, and having a child with a diabetes diagnosis can be overwhelming. It is good to know there are resources to help a family living with this chronic disease. Michigan State University Extension working with the American Diabetes Association joins two community-based organizations to help its citizens by empowering them with resources and education.

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