Your Child with Diabetes at School

By American Diabetes Association

Your child will spend the majority of her day at school, so you’ll need to work together with school administrators, the school nurse, and other school staff to ensure he is safe and successful. Your school may not be familiar with caring for and supporting preteens and teens with type 2 diabetes. After all, the increase of type 2 diabetes in young people is a fairly recent health concern. Don’t be discouraged. Take the opportunity to educate others about diabetes and advocate for your child. He may need special accommodations during the school day so he can be a safe, healthy, and successful student.

Knowing and advocating for your child’s rights

Children with diabetes are protected against discrimination by disability laws. It may be hard to think of your child as having a disability, but diabetes is a disability because it limits the function of the endocrine system. Students with diabetes have the right to enroll and participate in school just like any other students. They have the right to take care of their diabetes and be safe, as well as have the opportunity to learn.

Federal laws protect children with diabetes at school, and some state laws give further protections and clarification about which school staff are allowed to provide diabetes care. Go to Kids Win to find specific information on your state’s laws and read on for information on federal laws.

Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a federal anti-discrimination law that protects children in public schools and private and religious schools that receive federal funding. It requires schools to provide needed diabetes care and services and to treat children with diabetes fairly, so they may participate in all school-sponsored activities. Students who are able to self-manage should be allowed to do so anywhere, anytime. Having written accommodations plans like a 504 Plan helps ensure that your child’s diabetes needs are met in school (see the following section for details on 504 Plans).

The Americans with Disabilities Act also protects people with disabilities such as diabetes, and applies to public schools, private schools, camps, and other programs (except those run by religious institutions).

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is another federal law that gives states money to help provide education and services for children with disabilities like diabetes. Children whose diabetes or other disability interferes with learning and academic progress are eligible for services under this law.

The FMLA allows you up to 12 weeks of time off work (unpaid) to care for an immediate family member such as a child with diabetes, if your employer is a public entity or has 50 or more employees. For example, you could take this time to respond to a diabetes-related emergency at school or if your child is newly diagnosed or hospitalized. You can take this leave in small blocks of time, even as small as 1-hour increments.

Putting care plans in writing

A Diabetes Medical Management Plan (DMMP) can help your child receive the care she needs at school or camp. You work with your doctor to detail your child’s diabetes care needs at school, such as times to check blood glucose, following a diabetes meal plan, physical activity, and how to handle emergencies.

Templates for a DMMP can be found online, but your child’s provider may need to tweak it based on your child’s specific needs and health.

A written accommodations plan, like a 504 Plan, is different. It details how your child can stay safe by receiving needed care, self-managing his diabetes, and participating fully in school. It may include provisions such as permission to make extra trips to the bathroom or offering non-food rewards and providing healthy foods for class parties. It may outline training for staff to understand diabetes. It may set aside alternate arrangements for making up missed assignments and exams, time missed for medical appointments, or other issues related to diabetes. You can find sample 504 Plans online.

Educate yourself before you take action. Visit Diabetes.org or call 800-DIABETES (800-342-2383) to find out more about your child’s rights at school and how to make sure your child gets needed care at school.