Growing number of diabetic children is having an effect on schools, daycares
Susan Kim, Stephanie Graham
Diabetes rates in children are skyrocketing, with experts predicting a 23% increase by 2050 in type 1 diabetes--the kind typically diagnosed in children. These increasing numbers are affecting daycare centers and schools, both of which are having a hard time dealing with the growing number of students who may need special care.
When Jared Kuper was diagnosed with diabetes at 8 years old, his mom Laura sat day after day, all day, at his school so that she could monitor his blood sugar levels herself.
"It's a minute to minute disease. So the wind could blow and their blood sugar changes. It's, it's a constant worry," Laura explains.
Three years later, she counts on the school nurse for help. Diabetes care is covered under the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Linda Siminerio is with the American Diabetes Association. She says, "Schools have to comply and it means they're required to provide for services for children with disabilities and if a daycare receives federal funding they have to comply with those same rules."
Debby Morris, a school nurse adds, "When we have a student that has diabetes we have to meet with the families and the staff, and talk about accommodations for school, what we need to do to make you know the student safe."
A growing number of parents complain they are facing discrimination.
"Some daycares don't accept kids with diabetes," Laura explains.
Experts say there is a lot of confusion about who is responsible for what. Siminerio explains, "Families still face some challenges in getting some resistance at the daycare and school level."
Facing challenges like who will monitor insulin levels? Who will give the shots?
That's not spelled out in the federal law. State law isn't always clear, either. The ADA says some parents end up sitting at the school all day.
"There's parents that work and shouldn't have to worry and don't have that luxury," Laura says.
So what can parents do? There are currently complaints filed with the Justice Department over care for children with diabetes. Attorneys say unfair treatment is taking place everywhere from daycare centers to summer camps. The American Diabetes Association believes it's stressful enough having a child with this disease. Fighting the system only escalates that stress.
"What we need to do is be able to think of ways to be able to support services to help those children have access to things that children who don't have diabetes have access to in the school setting and the daycare," Siminerio suggests.
Laura has worked out a system with her school so that the school nurse monitors Jared's condition. She, and other parents like her, say they just want their children to have access to the same opportunities other children have. "They shouldn't be denied, um, you know, being taken care of just because they have a disease."
State law varies on who may administer insulin. In our state, the law states school employees or volunteers may administer a medication or an injection to a pupil according to the written instructions of a doctor if the student's parent consents.