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New Jersey lawyer focusing on special education law and employment law

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Diabetes, Day Care, and Summer Camp

Earlier this month, the press reported stories about parents who face hurdles finding a day care center or summer camp that will accommodate their diabetic children.

Insulin pumpThe Wall Street Journal published two articles about the difficulties that parents may face when looking for a day care center for their diabetic children (Type 1 diabetes).

In Side Effect for Children: Day-Care Dilemmas, we learn that some parents are having difficulties finding a day care center that will accommodate diabetic children. Some day care centers simply do not have anyone who are able to administer insulin medicine when a child has a diabetic attack. In another Wall Street Journal article, we learn that some day care centers might not agree to take in a child unless the child is on an insulin pump.

The Wall Street Journal points out that:

Under the Americans With Disabilities Act, children with diabetes cannot be excluded from public and private day-care centers based on their condition. In 1996, the Justice Department reached a settlement with the nation’s biggest day-care chain—KinderCare Learning Centers—in which the provider agreed to care for children with diabetes.

The settlement between the KinderCare Learning Centers and the Department of Justice can be found here.

It should be noted that other child care centers across the country have also entered into similar settlements with the US Department of Justice, including La Petite Academic, Inc. (nationwide), Raynor Country Day School (Speonk, New York), Pine Hills Kiddie Garden (Fort Wayne, Indiana), Alexandria Country Day School (Alexandria, Louisiana), Rainbow River Child Development Center (Hawthorne, California).

Although the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits many day care centers from discriminating against children with diabetes, and although several child care centers have entered into settlement agreements with the US Department of Justice, the Wall Street Journal notes that:

In practice, however, parents of diabetic toddlers are excluded regularly, parents and advocates say. Many centers cite state and local laws that require certification for administering medicine like insulin as a reason. Small home-based child-care operations with limited staff and resources argue that taking care of diabetics would disrupt their programs and interfere with the other children.

If state law requires certification in order to administer insulin, and it would be a financial hardship to get a staff member certified, it is possible that the child care center may not be held liable for discrimination. It would depend on a number of factors, including the size of the child care center.

For more information about how the Americans with Disabilities Act affects the operation of day care centers, see the Pacer Center’s ADA Q&A: Child Care Providers.

Also in this month’s news: a settlement between the US Department of Justice and the Town of Rocky Hill, Connecticut, has been reached. The Town had allegedly discriminated against a diabetic child because it did not “immediately” admit the child into the Town’s summer camp. In the settlement, The Town agreed to

implement policies and procedures to ensure that children with disabilities are afforded full and equal opportunities to participate in and benefit from the Town’s summer camp programs.  The Town also agreed to publish on its website and post at Town Hall a statement of policy on prohibition of discrimination on the basis of disability.  The Town also agreed to pay monetary damages to the child’s parents and conduct ADA compliance training for its Parks & Recreation employees, which will emphasize an attitude of inclusion of all children regardless of their abilities or disabilities.

More information about this case can be found in the Hartford Courant – Rocky Hill Settles Disabilities Discrimination Complaint About Summer Camp.

Like the Town of Rocky Hill, at least one privately owned summer camp entered into a settlement agreement with the US Department of Justice to modify its policies and offer reasonable accommodations to young campers with disabilities, including those with diabetes.

Parents who feel that their diabetic children are being discriminated against should be encouraged to contact a private attorney or the US Department of Justice to determine whether something can be done.

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