Starting School or Day Care
Sending your young child off to day care or school for the first time can be a stressful and emotional experience—for both of you! And when your child has type 1 diabetes, there are many other concerns.
The good news is that most day care groups and schools are already familiar with diabetes care. And, if they are not, they will need to get up to speed very quickly. That's because, by law, they are required to meet your child's diabetes care needs. You will want to take an active role to ensure that this happens as smoothly as possible. We're here to help you with this process.
Putting your child's care plan in writing is always a good idea. You don't have to do this all on your own. Reach out to your child's diabetes care team and school or day care staff to create a plan that everyone can understand. This way, everyone will know what to expect and how to help. Here are some of the plans that are available.
You will need to create one for your child so everyone involved in his or her care understands your child's diabetes care needs. You and your child's diabetes care team will need to work together on this and then discuss it with your child's school or day care facility before finalizing it.
Your DMMP will contain important information, such as when your child was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, emergency contacts, and specific instructions for:
- Blood sugar monitoring (testing)
- Taking insulin and other medicines
- Meals and snacks
- Physical activity
- Dealing with low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and high blood sugar (hyperglycemia)
- Checking for ketones
- Emergency evacuations
The DMMP goes into great detail, including what tasks your child can perform on their own and what he or she will need help doing. It should be updated at least once every year, or more often as necessary to keep up with changes in your child's care plan, diabetes self-management ability, and daily school life. For information on creating a DMMP and to download a sample form, visit the American Diabetes Association website at www.diabetes.org.
Section 504 Plan
The Section 504 Plan is the next step to take after creating a DMMP. It helps make sure students with diabetes have access to the same education as children without diabetes. Based on the DMMP, the Section 504 Plan clearly outlines the responsibilities of everyone involved: the student, the parents/guardians, and people who work at the school. It acts as a game plan for working through challenges and avoiding problems. It is similar to a DMMP plan, but more focused on making sure that the child’s educational needs do not suffer because of their physical needs.
It is called a Section 504 Plan because it was developed to meet the requirements of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This federal law makes it illegal to treat people with disabilities unfairly (under this law, diabetes is considered a disability). Commonly called "Section 504," it applies to all public schools and to private schools that receive federal funds. For more information on 504 Plans and to download a sample form, visit the American Diabetes Association website at www.diabetes.org.
Individualized Education Program (IEP)
An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is used for children with disabilities. It is a plan to make sure they get the special education services they may need. In many cases, children with type 1 diabetes do not need an IEP because everything they need is already covered in the Section 504 Plan. Other children have a harder time learning because of their type 1 diabetes. That's when it may make sense to work with your child's school to create an IEP.
Special needs that you may want to consider including in your child's IEP could be:
- Make-up tests as needed. If your child has a blood sugar high or a low during an exam, it should not be held against him or her. They should be allowed to retake it
- Flexibility in attendance requirements. Especially in case of health-related absences, including doctor visits
- Bathroom breaks. Permission to leave class to use the restroom as needed
- Diabetes management time. Allowing your child enough time to adjust or inject insulin, check blood sugar, and complete meals and snacks
- Something to drink. Access to increased fluid intake as needed
For more detailed information on your child's rights in school or day care, visit the following websites: