Revisiting 504 Resources

Some parts of the country are back to school already while some of us have a few fleeting days of summer left to enjoy.  Either way, it's time to think about 504 plans.  These documents outline the accommodations which will be made by the school to allow a child to manage a medical condition without compromising education.  Or do they allow for getting a good education without compromising on needed medical attention?  Either way, if a child has diabetes, a 504 plan is important. Knowing how to secure one and what to put in it can be tricky.  Below is a post I wrote last fall after updating my daughter's 504 plan at her then new school: 

Last week I met with our school's 504 team and finalized my daughter's plan for this year.  In the past these meetings were somewhat routine.  Going into a new school, with a more complicated schedule and a whole new cast of characters, I felt it important to do my homework and enter the process prepared.

Below are a few resources which might be helpful to parents who are entering the 504 process for the first time, or who are looking to make some significant changes or updates to one which is in place:

The American Diabetes Association has a Safe At School campaign.  This includes a publication which they will send to you and/or your school.  It provides comprehensive information about all kinds of diabetes issues which could arise and ways to handle them.  The Safe At School section of the website provides links to additional staff training resources as well as sample 504 plans, and good advice about working with staff to obtain the best support for your child at school.  There is also a very thorough section on legal resources.  It explains channels through which to proceed should you be unable to secure a 504 plan for your child, or secure the reasonable accommodations you wish to have in there.  Also helpful is a directory of applicable state laws which relate to diabetes in school.

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation puts out a 'School Advisory Toolkit'.  It comes as a hard copy from your local chapter, or is easily requested to download yourself.  It contains an overview of the 504 laws and practical information to help put one in place at your school for your child.  There are helpful samples of 504 accommodations as well as sample forms for different circumstances, such as one for a teacher to leave for substitutes.

Both ADA and JDRF have helpful back to school webcasts which can be viewed anytime through their websites.

Children With Diabetes has a page on Diabetes At School.  It contains links to a multitude of resources.  These include sample plans and forms, legal information, SAT testing rules and advice, and links to a variety of publications and websites which also deal with this issue.  Unique to Children With Diabetes is the opportunity to look at past polls, message board conversations and ask the expert results around this issue.  Reading how real-life situations have been resolved can be helpful in brainstorming solutions for your own.

A common theme throughout these resources bears repeating and emphasizing. Taking the time to make sure school staff understand a bit about Type 1 Diabetes will go a long way.  Educate staff about the effects and dangers of high and low blood sugars and the process of keeping them at bay. Explain, with examples if you possibly can, how diabetes has affected your child's school day in the past.  Use this information as the basis for making your requests regarding how your child's diabetes is handled at school.

Our 504 process ended with a mutually agreeable plan.  More importantly, it ended with our school's staff having a better understanding of Type 1 Diabetes.  Most importantly, it ended with an understanding that my daughter, the school's staff, our doctors, my husband and I are a team working together to keep my daughter's diabetes from getting in the way of a good education.

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