Protecting Children with Diabetes: The Safe at School Program

Back to school is a stressful time for us all but it can be especially difficult for parents of children with diabetes. As the American Diabetes Association’s lead staff person working to make sure children with diabetes are safe and treated fairly in school — but more importantly, as a mother who has sent her child with diabetes back to school — I know firsthand the range of emotions families face this time of year.  Sending your child back to school can elicit a host of feelings, from fear to guilt, especially if you’re worried about the quality of diabetes care during the school day. For those of you in this situation, I’d like to tell you about the American Diabetes Association’s Safe at School campaign.

The Safe at School campaign assists families with issues big and small. Whether it’s making sure your child has a care plan for school or field trips, time for a mid-morning snack, or you’re looking to change the policy in your state, we have the resources you need to keep your child safe all year long.
The campaign works with schools and families to ensure that students with diabetes are not segregated, that there are trained individuals in schools to help children with diabetes, and that students who are capable of doing so are allowed to self-manage their diabetes. The campaign also trains parents, health care professionals and school personnel to make sure children with diabetes have the care they need and are not placed in life-threatening situations. 

A recent example of Safe at School’s efforts is our ongoing battle in the California courts to protect children with diabetes and make sure they have access to the insulin they need to be safe and thrive at school.  According to a court ruling, state law will only allow a nurse to administer insulin to a child in need, and other school employees who want to volunteer and be trained to administer this medication, if needed, are not allowed to do so, even though diabetes experts agree this is safe.  This ruling is hurting children because sadly, there are not enough nurses in California schools to administer insulin.  We continue to fight this ruling, and it has taken us all the way to the California Supreme Court. 

As summer winds down and the school bells begin to sound, I encourage you to explore how the Association’s Safe at School can help your family. I’d also love to hear how you’re feeling this back to school season. Nervous, calm, scared? Share it here.

Best wishes for a safe and healthy school year,
Crystal Jackson
Associate Director, Legal Advocacy

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