BACK TO SCHOOL Part II: Tips for Providing Adequate Type 1 Diabetes Care in a School Environment

Laffel3As other people like teachers, daycare instructors, and extracurricular advisors step into the role of caring for your child, you may feel like they are falling short of providing adequate medical care to manage your child’s diabetes. In part one, we explored common problems you may encounter in both public and private institutions. Parents have to deal with everything from being told they’ll have to bus their children across town to schools with full-time nurses, to being flat out rejected from daycares. But one of the most common problems is lack of medical oversight, either because a school nurse is unavailable, part time, or because the person charged with medical point-of care has little to no medical background. Debbie Butler, M.S.W., L.I.C.S.W., C.D.E., Associate Director of Pediatric Programs at Joslin Diabetes Center, shares tips for educating others about caring for your child.


One of the best solutions to these problems is providing caregivers with the proper medical training. Joslin offers two types of training courses: one for nurses and one for all other caregivers.

If a school nurse finds themselves in the care of a child with type 1 diabetes, they should consider signing up for Joslin’s Diabetes Education Program for School Nurses.  Run by Laurie Higgins, M.S., R.D., L.D.N., C.D.E., Pediatric Nutrition Educator at Joslin Diabetes Center, this in depth, day-long seminar is specifically geared towards school nurses interested in becoming better equipped to handle caring for a child with type 1 diabetes.

Butler explains that it’s a great refresher course for those who have been nurses for a long time, someone who is new to school nursing, or just a way to get familiarized with the most up to date technologies. Classes are usually offered twice in the fall and once in the spring. Nurses can also visit Joslin’s  School Nurse Resource page for more information on everything from diabetes tech, to laws, and even care guidelines.

For anyone else tasked with caring for a child with diabetes, Joslin’s Classes for Caregivers are an easy, supportive way to jump into diabetes 101. These two hour classes go over the basics of diabetes, symptoms, causes, and treatments, as well as related topics like food and physical activity. This class is suitable for friends and family, daycare personnel, nannies, coaches—anyone who is tasked with caring for your child. There are usually three classes in the spring and three in the fall on weeknights after work. If you’d like to suggest these classes to someone caring for your child, upcoming dates are April 13th and May 12th, 2016 from 6:30-8:30pm.  Butler explains that it can be a daunting task for those totally new to diabetes care, but diabetes care can be taught. “Most parents that have a kid with diabetes aren’t medical providers and they learn,” she says.

If your child is a patient at Joslin, let your child’s designated care givers know that they can reach out to Joslin’s Pediatric Department at anytime to answer questions. “If you call us, someone will call you back. Always,” says Butler. “But unfortunately not everyone has a team who can respond that quickly. You have to support the people taking care of your child. They have to be prepared.”

To learn more about the problems facing students with diabetes, read part one of this story. Or, read this article for more patient stories about dealing with diabetes and the school system.

For questions about the Classes for Caregivers or the Diabetes Education Program for School Nurses, you can contact Akiko Dufoe at 617-309-4530 or email You can also learn more about caring for childhood type 1 diabetes, or request an appointment, by visiting our Pediatrics page.

This story was originally posted on April 8, 2016.

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