It’s hard for me to believe that we are still battling stuff like this.  In all actuality though, the battle of keeping kids with diabetes safe at school is getting harder.  With budget cuts leading to less nurses on staff, and the need to spread nurses across multiple schools, I just shake my head in amazement.

Along with the shortage of nurses at school, diabetes management has gotten tighter and more micro-managed these days.  When I was growing up with diabetes things were much different.  My parents didn’t wake up multiple times per night to check my blood sugar because we didn’t have blood sugar tests.

I’m quite sure my blood sugar stayed higher.  My A1C’s ranged from 9.8 at the lowest, to 14.8 at the highest.  Thank God things are different today.  But with tighter management comes more risk and more interaction, and a lot of that risk and interaction happens while kids are at school.

Outrage in Education

Keeping a Child Safe at School – Diabetes Forecast, August 2012

I’d like you to read this story about Latesha Taylor and her daughter, Loretta, just published in Diabetes Forecast.

It is a story of nearly constant lack of care from the school, and a seemingly nonchalant attitude about it.  Latesha regularly drops everything she’s doing (work included) to rush to school to care for her daughter when the nurse is absent.

It’s a horrifying tale of discrimination that denies diabetes care to students across the D.C. school system.

The whole thing is a mess, and it is literally destroying this family, one missed paycheck at a time.

It’s just one example of struggles with schools happening all over the nation, and none of it is acceptable.

Take Action

Sign the “Safe at School Pledge to Protect our Kids” today.  Help the ADA stop this unfair treatment by signing the pledge right now – and telling friends and family to do the same.

 

More Resources

The American Diabetes Association has championed this cause and has a bunch of resources and advocacy action on the “Safe at School” section of diabetes.org.

Need more information? The ADA is hosting a free “back-to-school” webinar on Tuesday, August 14th, 2012, at 8:00 PM EST.  Registration is required, and space is limited.  If you can’t make it, or registration has filled, free access to the recording will be available withing 10 days of the broadcast at www.diabetes.org/safeatschool

Crystal Jackson, one of the ADA‘s greatest champions for keeping kids safe at school, also shared a “Back-to-School Checklist” that you might want to take a look at.  And don’t forget, you can reach the ADA helpline at 800-Diabetes.

Want to hear more from Crystal? I know it’s a ways out, but DSMA Live will be hosting Crystal on November 8th, 2012 at 9PM EST.

  • http://www.mydiabetic-child.com Lora

    We have been fortunate to have one of the best nurses in the world for the past 4 years. Our challenges seem to be with nonchalant teachers. This year, Justin heads off to middle school and I am more scared than you can possibly know. A new nurse to learn to work with and many more teachers to make understand that stress/excitment causes lows for us. I honestly hate this time of year. Stressful.

  • deanusa

    this sucks. i want to sign this pledge as a d but im not going to because the ada is requiring that i give them my info so they can stay in contact with me so its not going to happen. sorry there has to be a better way

  • Mantha K

    I just wanted to inform you that in Greece we don’t have school nurses in any schools, except in private ones. Children in public schools are just doomed! They have to take care of themselves and are completely on their own.. And if something happens they just call an ambulance or the parents..

  • http://www.ourdiabeticlife.com Meri

    Unfortunately, California is a huge offender as well. The nurses lobbied saying they are the only ones that can help Type 1 Diabetic children in schools…and they won. But since they are funded to be there only one morning a week…obviously they cannot help. And now everyone else’s hands are tied. So no one gets help. It’s a mess! Thank you so much for bringing this my attention. I’ll spread the word far and wide!

  • Dorothy H

    I have a type 1 diabetic son, last year his teacher refused to let him check himself in class, she said she was afraid of getting some discease from his blood, so we had to switch teachers and explaining it to my son i almost couldn’t hold the tears. my great nurse retired and now a new one. oh lord. we have to leave our jobs alot last year almost cost us our house due to lost wages, for my sons highs, mostly due to lunch staff selling him snacks after i told them not to . hopefully this year is better.

  • Kit

    Where we live in CO, most schools have health paras who work part time, nurse consultants who might stop in on occasion, and volunteers. Most principals or assistant principals, like ours, will make it clear that no one is going to use cake gel or glucagon, they will just clear the room and call 911. I can’t seem to get them to understand how unacceptable that is.

    Thing is, it’s worse than just having our kids unsafe at school, it’s the lack of truly good training, receptiveness to that training, or the awareness of how many parents are losing income or even jobs due to the time required to help our kids in an emergency. My own T1D wasn’t allowed to return to school for nearly two weeks, and even then I left the school I taught at to run and give her a lunch time injection every day for over a week. By the end of the year, I’d lost my teaching job. I know it happens to many, many parents, and yet this doesn’t seem to be talked about. In states where employers can let you go for any reason, there is no legal redress. (If there were, the ADA would have helped…)

    Our kids need to be safe at schools; we need to somehow rekindle that sense of community and get everyone on board with doing the right thing – even when it’s scary.

    • erica

      this is so illegal just by federal law alone to only 911 and i hate it my school not quite that bad but we have our issues and I’m told they can’t do that but who is going to stop them??

  • http://www.diabetesadvocacy.com Barb W

    Sadly, living in Canada and having worked on this issue for over 10 years, this is very common here. We have no nurses and if parents cannot work out an agreement with their schools, they are often put in the impossible position of having to be in two places at once–work and school. While there are some changes that have been made, and some accommodations that are being made by some individual schools we have a long, long way to go.

    • JJ

      Unfortunately Barb the same is true in the UK and like you, having worked on school issues for over 10 years its so frustrating that very little has changed.

  • http://thegirlsguidetodiabetes.com Sysy

    Great post, Scott, we definitely need to work on this one. I know that my family lived very humbly so that my mom could stay home and take care of my sister and I when we needed it (she’d often go to the school to give my sister her shot or come pick me up when I was really high). Not every family has a parent at home and this doesn’t justify a kid being unsafe at school. I totally signed that petition. Thanks for making me aware of it!

  • http://www.ninjabetic.com George

    This makes me so angry and sad at the same time. Thank you for posting this Scott.

  • http://www.darthealthcc.com Michelle Dart, MSN, PNP, CDE

    As a parent of a child with Type 1 Diabetes, healthcare provider and diabetes educator, I am horrified by the stories I have heard. Right now, we are lucky in New York State to have the Department of Health fund diabetes education in the schools and daycare settings. Yet, the education does not happen often enough. I am letting people know that I am available to provide that education so I am hopeful that we can learn more about what is happening in the schools, what issues need to be addressed and how can I impact that change. I am in awe of all the mom’s and dad’s out there fighting for their child’s safety and rights. What a difference that makes.

    • erica

      i told my school about the state paying for an educator to come to the school and i was told they will look into it but i have to say i didn’t feel confident they were really interested,,, but why??

      • http://www.darthealthcc.com Michelle Dart, MSN, PNP, CDE

        unfortunately, I don’t know the schools see the real benefit of the education. There is a disconnect between nursing guidelines, parent involvement and true understanding of diabetes and how it impacts learning. Nursing standards and protocols for the school setting do not push diabetes education compared to asthma and allergy information. This should be a priority in the school setting. The department of education must also see this as a need and make it a requirement for education to occur. Educating the schools and daycare settings is one thing, but convincing them of the importance is another. The more we speak out about this need, and work together, there is always a possibility of change. Unfortunately, there are many saddening stories happening as we try to reach that goal.

  • Deb Quinlan, RN, BSN, CDE

    I am a Certified Diabetes Educator as well as a Regional Diabetes Resource Nurse for southwest Colorado. This is a position developed by the Colorado Dept of Education and the American Diabetes Association. Amazingly enough, teachers and school staff are unaware of this position and have no idea they can use us (RDRN’s) to educate their staff. I live in an area of Colorado that has not met Annual Yearly Progress for many years. I fear the school administrators are so busy determining how they are going to “fix” education, the health needs of students with diabetes are neglected. My plan is to offer my services to the area schools repeatedly. That is all I can do. And, I will hope for the best. Eventually, someone’s got to hear our message!

  • http://www.ManageBGL.com Simon Carter

    Surely the schools have a duty of care to each child?

    What happens with epipens for those kids with peanut and other life-threatening allergies?

    We had an issue with our daughter’s (6 year old) home room and also sports teacher not wanting to do blood tests. The school worked around this by using an aid who was already there to assist other kids. Since then we have insisted that we are involved in the selection of teacher for our child in the following year, to make sure that their personality type meets our requirements ie willing to learn, and adaptable. We also provide a cell/mobile phone in my daughter’s backpack (which the teachers carry from class to class for her), which really helps them in the first few months of school.

  • http://www.ManageBGL.com Simon Carter

    I should also add that in my daughter’s backpack we provide several pairs of rubber gloves – this was to overcome the ridiculous ‘diseased blood’ issue that uneducated ‘school union’ types raise from time to time.

    The gloves have been in there for 3 years now, and have NEVER been used. But it has pulled the rug out from under their argument!

    • Erica

      At our school they r on top of the epi pens matter a fact the have 72 page doc to address all those issues around food n bees but not one thing how to care for T1 child or deal with these issues ,, which I just don’t get b/c T1 is always there every second to deal with not just in the lunch line or snack time or outside on the play ground or were Ever those pesky bees want to be but T1 is everywhere at all times so why is it they don’t find it at least as important ..,, :( specially when we have nurses who give peanut butter cups as a quick sugar or a child at 68 BG and send him to lunch w/ o treating it

  • Pablo León Fernández

    Hi all, A new patent Paul is: Device prefilled insulin pen is a very useful tool for the patient because it offers: 1 freezes inside the feathers of any diameter. The lower base 2 limits the entry of the needle into the skin and kept at 90 °. 3 fins pressure to put two fingers and one button actuated at will. 4 The immobility of the device pins impossible sprains, tears, resting his hand to make a new programming more units without removing the needle. Company looking to license the patent Greetings ..

  • http://www.darthealthcc.com Michelle Dart, MSN, PNP, CDE

    Deb, I am in the same sort of position. I am contracted with the New York State Department of Health to provide diabetes education in the schools and daycare settings. I don’t believe this is a well-known opportunity either. At this point, I have sent copies of the flyers to daycare providers and previously to the school districts in two local counties, but have the availability to cover several more counties. I plan to let the local diabetes clinics and diabetes organizations (JDRF and ADA) know about the availability, but it’s not easy. If the schools don’t believe they need education, they aren’t going to ask for it. I was working with a school that the principal has moved to another school. Prior to his leaving, he was interested in the education, but now he has left and school administration are not sure it is needed. If anyone has any ideas of how to get this information out there, I would love to hear them. This has become my passion, so children and families do not have to go through the stress, fear and frustration every year.

  • http://www.darthealthcc.com Michelle Dart, MSN, PNP, CDE

    Simon, the cell phone is a great idea for contact with parents. This is not accepted at all schools, including a local school I have been working with. You would think this would be highly accepted because I would love to know that I can reach a child’s parent, the school nurse or 911 so easily. These children are not confined to a classroom and may be out on the playground and if they have their “pack” with them, they have everything they need at their fingertips. Is there a glucagon kit in the bag? Does your school have people trained to use it? Was there an issue finding volunteers? I love to hear the stories because it provides me with more information to share in my teaching at the schools and child care centers. Thanks, Scott for such a great post at such an important time as we all prepare for returning/starting school!

    • http://www.ManageBGL.com Simon Carter

      Hi Michelle, yes, there is a glucagon kit in the backpack as well; both the home room teacher and nurse have been shown how to use it (pretty self explanatory, and comes with instructions). My daughter’s backpack is left in the classroom at playtime – she is pretty good at knowing when she is low.

      Also, the children always eat just before going outside, so it’s pretty unlikely for her to be low. We have also organized for my daughter’s class to do their swimming first in the day to minimize chances of her getting low in the pool.

      It’s not a matter of finding volunteers in Australia, all teachers have a duty of care, and they all receive training in epipens, diabetes, asthma etc at the start of each year.

      • http://www.darthealthcc.com Michelle Dart, MSN, PNP, CDE

        I like the idea of a “duty of care”. And the training at the beginning of each year is ideal and that is what we strive for, but it doesn’t happen often enough. Do you have any trouble as far as nursing staff availability? We have some schools that do not have a nurse at all and without volunteers, our children with diabetes are at risk. I believe a lot of it comes from a lack of understanding about how important it is be be educated. I would be afraid to have a child in my care that I didn’t understand their disease or how to manage it. In an ideal world, everyone would be educated and do what it takes to keep all of our children safe at school.

  • http://www.scottsdiabetes.com/ Scott K. Johnson

    Thank you ALL for the comments and feedback. I hope that we’ll be able to all work together to make some progress with issues like these. I very much appreciate you taking the time to read and share your thoughts.

  • http://www.diabeteswa.com.au Susanna

    My name is Susanna and I work with Diabetes Western Australia. We have recently developed a Diabetes First Aid kit with treatments for hypos. It contacins simple instructions designed for people with little to no understanding of diabetes care and we are aiming to sell them to schools, sporting associations and encourage people to even just keep in thme in their cars. I think it’s a simple product but with huge, life saving potential. If you’d like to know more, visit the Diabetes WA website. Thanks and good luck with getting somewhere with your project!

  • Pingback: It Takes a Community to Keep D-Kids Safe at School : DiabetesMine: the all things diabetes blog

  • Brian Inkster

    Handicapped people with type 1 may not be able to provide self-care for type 1 diabetes that a physically and mentally normal person does with no difficulty. Surely police officers, bus drivers, and employees at stores and libraries should be aware of emergencies and know to contact 911 when an emergency is developing.

  • http://rawkansas.blogspot.com Johanna B

    I read this article over the weekend and I am appalled at the lack of care this child is recieving in 2012. There is no excuse for her to be subjected to substandard care. Get on this stick Washington, DC.

  • http://www.scottsdiabetes.com/ Scott K. Johnson

    Looks like there has been some resolution in D.C.

  • D V Srikanth

    It is a pathetic state of affairs that children with Type 1 are being deprived of basic diabetic care, in schools. Considering the huge amounts spent by parents towards educating their children, it is mandatory for schools that diabetic children are given decent care. The concerned authorities have to initiate steps that would make the schools compulsorily adhere to norms of diabetes care.

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