Managing Type 1 Diabetes at School
Important Resources for School Staff
Type 1 diabetes requires constant attention—it doesn't go away during school hours. That's why it's essential that school staff, including teachers, bus drivers, and school health personnel, understand the needs of their students with type 1 diabetes to ensure that school is a safe and healthy environment.
More than 13,000 young people are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes each year.1 Because the disease is so common in young children, it's important that schools have at least some staff members who have a basic understanding of type 1 diabetes. Having a school worker on hand who knows how to check blood glucose, inject insulin, and choose an appropriate snack when blood glucose levels are low provides an enormous amount of security to parents.
Resources for Parents and School Staff
Children with type 1 diabetes rely on both parents and school officials to ensure that their condition is managed at school. That's a big responsibility for parents and school workers, but fortunately, there are resources available to help make your child's school conducive to managing type 1 diabetes.
- For parents, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) and the American Diabetes Association (ADA) offer sample school type 1 diabetes care forms that alert the school to your child's condition and provide instructions on how the school should respond in an emergency situation.
- For school staff, the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Helping the Student with Type 1 Diabetes Succeed: A Guide for School Personnel provides a comprehensive overview of important considerations for schools that have students with type 1 diabetes.
Laws Protecting Your Child with Type 1 Diabetes
As a parent of a child with type 1 diabetes, you should be aware of the federal laws that protect your child at school. Below are brief overviews of these laws. The descriptions also include links to connect you to more detailed information.
- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA): Section 504 prohibits schools who receive federal funds from discriminating against people with disabilities. Title II of the ADA prohibits schools from discriminating against people with disabilities, regardless if the school receives federal funds. Students with diabetes have long been covered by both Section 504 and the ADA. For a more extensive overview of these laws, visit the US Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights website.
- Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): IDEA provides funds to states to create special education services for children with eligible disabilities. Diabetes is one of the conditions listed under "other health impairment," and to qualify, a child's diabetes must negatively impact their academic performance to the point that he or she requires special education. For more information, visit the US Department of Education's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services website.
- Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA): FERPA prevents schools from releasing any personal information, including whether your child has diabetes, in your child's education record without the permission of a parent or student (if the student is 18 years or older).To learn more, visit the US Department of Education's Family Policy Compliance Office website.
Also note that specific states and individual school districts have laws and rules regarding a school's responsibility for its students with type 1 diabetes. Visit your state's education website and/or contact your school district to learn more about the laws and regulations that protect your child at school when he or she has type 1 diabetes. You can also contact your local ADA and JDRF offices for more information.
- Helping the Student with Type 1 Diabetes Succeed: A Guide for School Personnel. National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP), a joint program of the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: http://ndep.nih.gov/media/Youth_NDEPSchoolGuide.pdf. June 2003. Accessed April 12, 2010.