If your child has significant medical needs, the education plan may be just one of many concerns. Here are steps that can help you address health and safety needs in school:
- Contact the school's principal, special education director, and school nurse three to six months before your child is scheduled to enter the school. Schedule a meeting to introduce yourself and discuss your child's needs.
- Provide the school nurse with healthcare information about your child, including a copy of your Emergency Information Form for Children with Special Health Needs.
- Work with your child's primary care provider (PCP), specialist, and/or school nurse to develop a list of everything your child needs on a daily basis to go to school.
- Contact MASSTART (Massachusetts Technology Assistance Resource Team) for help developing your child's Individualized Health Care Plan (IHCP) and Emergency Response Plan. MASSTART is a free program that provides consultation services for children with special health needs who are in school. It helps children who use medical technology (like a feeding tube, oxygen, ventilator, etc.) to safely attend school.
- Request a meeting between you, your child's PCP, and the school nurse. The school nurse will probably be your child's healthcare coordinator at school. This meeting will provide an opportunity to develop an Individualized Health Care Plan (IHCP) for your child. An IHCP explains all of your child's daily needs, lists the staff that will be working with your child, and reviews possible health problems and solutions.
- If your child is receiving special education, request that your child's Individualized Health Care Plan (IHCP) be attached to the Individualized Education Program (IEP).
- Contact your child's teacher and/or evaluation team leader if your child must be away from school due to illness, including hospitalization. He or she will help plan for your child's education during this time.
- If your child is hospitalized, send a copy of the discharge summary to the school nurse. Also, tell the nurse if your child's health needs change.
When going to a meeting at your child's school, think about bringing someone with you to provide support. If possible, bring a family member, friend, or advocate.
This information is provided in part by the Division of Perinatal, Early Childhood, and Special Health Needs within the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and mass.gov.