Chronic Illness Care in California Schools

Adopted January 2010 – Reviewed and deemed relevant February 2015 – Revised August 2020 – Health & Community Concerns Commission

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 25% of children aged 2 to 8 years have a chronic health condition such as asthma, obesity, other physical conditions, and behavior/learning problems. The healthcare needs of children with chronic illness can be complex and continuous and includes both daily management and addressing potential emergencies.

California State PTA understands there are difficult challenges that families face every day to ensure that a child with chronic illness and other healthcare needs receives appropriate care at school.

Many children are coming to school with a broad spectrum of chronic illness and healthcare needs, and the numbers of those children continue to rise. Federal laws mandate that all children are entitled to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). Parents of children with disabilities from ages three through twenty-one have specific educational rights under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). These rights are called procedural safeguards. Individuals serving as surrogate parents and students aged eighteen receiving special education services, are also entitled to these procedural safeguards. IDEA, federal, and state laws determine who will provide services and how such services will be provided, including – but not limited to – both assistance with, and the administration of, medications.

California State PTA believes that parents and school personnel should be trained and educated on the complexities of disease management for any student suffering from chronic illness. Students spend a large portion of their day at school and it is vital that school staff who come into contact with these students have a thorough understanding of their illness in order to ensure appropriate care.

California State PTA supports solutions that enable all children with chronic illness and other healthcare needs to be safe in California schools. All children deserve the safest and most appropriate care, including, but not limited to, administration of medications, from licensed personnel, working within their scope of practice, who can assess and appropriately provide necessary medical services and care according to state law.

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