Diabetes Forecast

5 Tips for Arranging Successful Child Care

By Tracey Neithercott , , ,

When Washington, D.C., residents Nelson Mix and his wife were vetting summer camps in 2011, they had one condition: The camp would have to care for their child's diabetes. They'd lucked out with the previous year's camp, which provided a medically trained counselor who could administer insulin. But that year, the Mix family had its sights set on the University of Maryland Center for Young Children's summer camp, which they applied to for both of their children in early winter.

It didn't take long for the rejection letter to arrive. According to its policy, the university couldn't provide extra care for a child with diabetes. So Mix called the American Diabetes Association for help, and together they filed a federal discrimination complaint against the university. (It's still under investigation by the Department of Justice.) And then Mix registered his now 7-year-old for camp at a local YMCA.

He'd described his child's needs during registration, so Mix didn't expect a problem when he arrived to explain insulin injections to the counselors. "There were some concerns about administering the insulin," he says of the fear some counselors had about calculating insulin doses from blood glucose level and carb intake.

Worried for his child's safety, Mix leveled with the camp's senior manager: "Do we need to pull our kid?" he asked. He was relieved when the YMCA (which partners with the American Diabetes Association for its Diabetes Prevention Program) pledged to accommodate his child.

The ADA has some tips that are universal and can apply to many child-care facilities.

Start early. Waiting until the last minute to find a summer camp or day-care facility for your child can leave you out of options. Beginning your search in advance will give you plenty of time to contact other camps or day cares if your top choice falls through.

Have a backup plan. If a favorite camp or day care denies your child acceptance, make sure you have a contingency plan. When the University of Maryland rejected Mix's child, he didn't panic. He pursued legal action but realized that would take time. His backup plan included the YMCA and the camp his child went to the year before.

Be prepared. Regardless of where you send your child, make sure he or she is able to keep a bag of diabetes supplies nearby, for personal use or adult use, depending on the child's age and ability. For example, consider keeping glucagon, glucose tablets, juice boxes, syringes, test strips, and a meter in a lunch box.

Invest in training time. To help apprehensive counselors gain confidence in providing diabetes care, enlist the help of your child's health care provider and diabetes educator. Parents can provide specific instructions and training for their own child. Mix visited the YMCA at lunch to demonstrate how to give an insulin injection. He and his wife included the total carb count for his child's lunch on a Post-it note in the bag. And he created a chart so counselors could look up a blood glucose number, cross-reference it with grams of carbs eaten, and land on the right insulin dose.

Be on call. "Part of making it easy for them is being accessible," he says. During the 2011 summer camp, Mix's cell phone was always on, and the administrators knew to call him if his child was sick or if they had any questions.



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