Students with Special Health Care Needs and School
Parents send their children to school with items such as notebooks, pencils, lunch and other supplies. Backpacks are also full of families hopes, dreams and worries.
Will my child like the teachers, will he have friends, and be able to follow the rules?
When a child has special health care needs, families have even more concerns.
Will my child get his/her medications, will the nurse know the difference between ‘normal sick’ and my child’s special needs and will anyone know what to do if an emergency happens?
An Individualized Health Care Plan, or (IHCP), can help you as a family member ensure your child’s medical needs will be met during the school day. The ICHP contains information about your child’s health. It also identifies who will be responsible for monitoring any issues related to your child’s special health care needs at school. During extracurricular activities, school trips or while being transported to and from school.
***Please note that ICHP forms are not standardized and may vary from school district to school district. FVND has several examples. Give us a call!
Developing the IHCP
The most important component of developing the IHCP is good communication between families and the school.
Planning ahead is important.
If your school has a nurse, call he/she before school starts to set up a time to discuss your child’s special needs. If your school does not have a nurse, set up a time to speak with the administrative staff such as the superintendent or principal or the child’s teacher.
The school nurse, staff and your family will work together to develop a health plan for your child.
Even if your child has an IEP (Individualized Education Program) or 504 Accommodation Plan, it is important to set up and Individualized Health Care Plan. It is also a good idea to have the same information at home. It will help first responders make important decisions about how to best care for your child during a medical emergency.
FVND has a great example of this through the American Academy of Pediatrics Emergency Medical Form. Call us to obtain one!
If the school has a nurse they will also meet with your child’s teacher to let them know about your child and his/her needs. Parents are welcome and encouraged to attend these meetings. Your child may also want to attend. It will assist your child in describing some of his own needs, learning to advocate as well as in can be reassuring for teachers to meet your child in person instead of just hearing about a medical diagnosis. If your child cannot attend the meeting, bring a photograph or tell a story that may illustrate your child’s personality and strengths.
Suggestions for Success
© Know the school policies. Some schools send the policies at the beginning of the year
© Start transitions early-the more time everyone has to prepare, the better.
© Be an expert on your child’s condition and be willing to share information and resources.
© Be available to answer questions, as you are familiar with your child’s issues. It may be scarey for some teachers, so it is important to address their concerns.
© Have a positive attitude. This makes it easier for school personnel to work with you.
© Provide contact information about your child’s primary health provider and specialists if needed.
© Supply as much documentation as possible. This may include physician orders, written prescriptions etc.
© Include your child’s transportation needs on the plan, including ambulance transport, if your child needs to go to the emergency room for treatment. As well as contact information for you in the event of an emergency.
Identify the best way to communicate with the school: written notes, phone calls, e-mail and appropriate times to contact the school.
Having a good plan in place will assist your child with special health care needs success.
Please contact FVND for more information in regards to IHPs.