When students qualify to receive special education services, most of these services center around the child’s education. However, they encompass much more than their learning. They often provide holistic support for children with disabilities – called related services.
One of these related services includes health plans, which can make a big difference for California students with physical disabilities or disorders that affect their health.
Health is fundamental for education
A child’s right to a free appropriate public education (FAPE) plays a key role in special education services. This right is also what addresses health plans. Both independent education plans (IEPs) and 504 plans may include health plans – though they are more commonly found within 504 plans.
Basically, if specific health services are necessary for children to obtain a FAPE, then schools must provide or obtain them for the child. Health is essential, a basic need for anyone. Teachers and schools are familiar with the idea of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. This hierarchy states that a child’s essential needs – which include health and physiological needs – must be met for children to learn effectively.
Therefore, a child’s rights to education under the law as well as their basic needs are two of the primary reasons why 504 plans and IEPs include health plans.
The role of the school nurse
When it comes to a health plan, the school nurse at your child’s school will generally take the lead. Their role can encompass a wide range of duties, including, but not limited to:
- Providing children with their medications
- Maintaining PEG or G tubes
- Being prepared in the event of an emergency
- Training teachers about health services for the child
Parents will also play a big role in developing the health plan. After all, they have a thorough understanding of their child’s health needs. It is also beneficial to include the child’s physician or other medical professionals who care for the child and know their medical history when creating the plan.
Establishing a health plan customized to a child’s needs can help parents feel confident that their child will be safe as well as prepared to learn at school.