Diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood. There are about 176,000 individuals <20 years of age with diabetes in the U.S. (1). The majority of these young people attend school and/or some type of day care and need knowledgeable staff to provide a safe school environment. Both parents and the health care team should work together to provide school systems and day care providers with the information necessary to allow children with diabetes to participate fully and safely in the school experience.
DIABETES AND THE LAW
Federal laws that protect children with diabetes include Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1991 (originally the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975), and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Under these laws, diabetes has been considered to be a disability, and it is illegal for schools and/or day care centers to discriminate against children with disabilities. In addition, any school that receives federal funding or any facility considered open to the public must reasonably accommodate the special needs of children with diabetes. Indeed, federal law requires an individualized assessment of any child with diabetes. The required accommodations should be provided within the child’s usual school setting with as little disruption to the school’s and the child’s routine as possible and allowing the child full participation in all school activities.
Despite these protections, children in the school and day care setting still face discrimination. For example, some day care centers may refuse admission to children with diabetes, and children in the classroom may not be provided the assistance necessary to monitor blood glucose and may be prohibited from eating needed snacks. The American Diabetes Association works to ensure the safe and fair treatment of children with diabetes in the school and day care setting …