Chronic illnesses, such as ongoing or reoccurring conditions like asthma, allergies, diabetes or epilepsy, affect at least 10-15 percent of American children. If your school-age child has a chronic illness, it is important for you to tell school personnel about your child’s special healthcare needs. “is requires writing down all those needs and an emergency plan for the school healthcare provider. This document should include:
- the child’s medical history, which you can get from your child’s healthcare provider;
- the child’s special (for example, if she needs a douse of insulin twice a day, or what activities might cause her to have a seizure);
- permission and directions for the school nurse to give your child medications;
- instructions and/or an outline for giving emergency treatment to your child signed by your doctor or healthcare provider;
- special digned needs (for example, a list of foods child is allergic to);
- transportation needs;
- potential problems and precautions;
- the child’s healthcare peovider’s name; and
- phone numbers of people you want the school to contact if
- there is an emergency with your child.
Developing a Plan
Once the school knows of your child’s special needs, they o#en will arrange a meeting with you, your child (if age-appropriate) and appropriate school staff, including the school nurse.
At this meeting, you and the school may create a 504 Plan or an individualized education program, which is a legal document detailing the supportive services the child will receive. “e plan sets short- and long-term goals for the child. “e plan should be reviewed regularly to make sure it continues to meet the child’s needs.
You must let the school know if there are any changes in the child’s needs or health, or if the emergency contact information has changed
Medication & Supplies
Ask about the school’s policies for medication storage and self-usage. Make sure your child can take the medicine in a comfortable place.
Give the school a supply of your child’s medication in the same bottle it was in when you picked it up at the pharmacy. Keep the label on the bottle. Replace medications and supplies as needed. “is supply should remain at school.
Provide the school with your home phone number, work phone number and cell phone number, if you have one, and the same information for another responsible person just in case they can’t reach you. “e school needs this information on hand at all times
Communication Is Key
“e school district is responsible for creating guidelines for handling common chronic illnesses like asthma, allergies, diabetes and epilepsy. “e district also must provide a safe environment for the student to take care of his health in the classroom and at all school-related activities.
Do not be afraid to talk to the school about your child’s condition or any concerns you have as you arrange your child’s care plan for school. If the school does not know all the facts, they may misunderstand your child’s behavior or performance.
Children with chronic health conditions perform better in school when their needs are met. They have fewer symptoms and can enjoy physical activities and special events, such as feld trips, a lot more.
Resources for this article can be accessed at www.advanceweb.com/nrses. Click on
Education, then References
Compiled by Abigail Scott, senior associate editor at ADVANCE.