For Children Living with Diabetes, Heading Back to School is a Team Effort

iStock_000008132646XSmallIt’s back to school month and everyone is gearing up for another school year by shopping for clothes and school supplies. However, for parents of children living with diabetes, back to school season involves more in-depth planning with school officials. Diabetes management is 24/7—it doesn’t take a break when a child boards the school bus. Federal and state laws help to ensure these needs are met at school and school personnel must be prepared.

After my daughter, Devin, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, I made it my job to advocate on behalf of her and all children with diabetes. In 1999, the first successful school diabetes care legislation passed in the Virginia General Assembly, which resulted in improved standards of care for students with diabetes in many other states. Now, 30 states meet the American Diabetes Association’s requirement of our three Safe at School tenets:

  • School staff administering insulin
  • School staff managing glucagon
  • Capable students being allowed to self-manage their diabetes

Since going through school and college, Devin has become an advocate of her own. She recently began working as a registered nurse (RN) at a Northern Virginia hospital. After her own experience in the school system, she was inspired to become a role model for others affected by diabetes. Her school nurses set a great example and were knowledgeable about her diabetes, understood all her needs and were supportive of self-management at an early grade.

Devin understands that supporting someone with diabetes is a team effort which includes parents, teachers and nurses. Thankfully, the American Diabetes Association offers training resources for non-medical school staff.

To give these parents peace of mind knowing their children’s diabetes needs are met, the Association started the Safe at School campaign. Launched in 2004, the campaign helps parents ensure their children with diabetes are medically safe in the classroom and during school activities. The program also offers guidance for overcoming obstacles and discrimination when things don’t go according to plan.

Things have come a long way since Devin was a little girl. With proper planning and resources, children with diabetes can take advantage of all of the same school opportunities as their peers.

As you prepare your child with diabetes for the new school year, think about the following:

  • Plan out care before school starts
  • Approach the school with the spirit of cooperation
  • Make sure there are plenty of diabetes supplies available
  • Confirm all contact information with school administration
  • Update your child’s 504 plan (templates available in English and Spanish)

If you’re interested in learning about various state legislations concerning children with diabetes and schools, read about Safe at School victories. You can also help or stay informed by becoming a diabetes advocate to help fight for your child’s rights.

For more info about the Safe at School campaign and to learn how you can help keep your child with diabetes medically safe, visit or call 1 (800)-DIABETES for help.

Crystal Jackson is the mother of a daughter, Devin, living with Type 1 diabetes and is the director of Safe at School for the American Diabetes Association. She is also a former PTA officer with Loudoun County Public Schools in Virginia.

American Diabetes Association’s Safe At School Campaign Helps Students With Diabetes

BTSchoolThe new school year has arrived and families are just settling in to their back to school routine, but for parents of children living with diabetes the back to school routine includes a few extra daily tasks and concerns. My daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the tender age of 17months, so I know firsthand that in addition to packing the backpack and getting the kids to the bus stop, parents of children with diabetes need to make sure a plan in place to ensure their children are healthy and safe in the classroom and at all school sponsored activities.

I knew that managing my daughter’s diabetes was a 24/7 job so early on, as a parent, it was scary for me to not be with her all of the time.  Just like me, all parents want to be able to trust their child has access to the diabetes care they need at school, but that’s not always easy. To help ease these fears, the American Diabetes Association (Association) is here to help parents by providing the tools and resources they need to feel confident their child is in good hands each day. Our Safe at School campaign works to eliminate problems with access to care and discrimination by assisting families and schools on how to navigate and develop the plans necessary to ensure their child’s medical needs are being met at school and to help fix problems when they occur.

Unfortunately not all schools are the same, and sometimes problems can happen.  The Association offers free expert assistance and guidance from our Legal Advocates when things don’t go according to plan. In addition to one-on-one assistance, the Safe at School campaign fights to change laws and policy across the country to ensure laws and regulations are in place so children with diabetes are fully supported and are medically safe at school.

To learn more about the Safe at School campaign, I encourage you t to check out the recording of our free Back to School Parent Advocacy Webinar by visiting

For more information about the Safe at School campaign and to learn how you can help keep your child with diabetes medically safe, visit or call 1-800-DIABETES for help.

 Crystal Jackson is a mother of a daughter living with type 1 diabetes and is the Director of Safe at School at the American Diabetes Association.

Making a Difference for Children with Diabetes


Crystal Jackson is the Director of the American Diabetes Association’s Safe at School Campaign and is the proud mom of Devin, diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1991 and Dylan, her supportive brother.

Like most other parents of elementary school children, I felt a lot of excitement, anticipation and trepidation when I first sent my two children off to school in the mid 1990’s.  Would they feel homesick, would their teacher be a good fit, would they easily make new friends with their classmates and would there be resources in place to support their individualized learning styles and to keep them engaged and excited about school?  And what role could I play as a parent to best support the school community?  As a mother of a daughter living with type 1 diabetes, I also wondered what could I do to ensure a safe and healthy learning environment for my daughter and to enhance awareness about the importance of schools and families working collaboratively to keep all students safe and healthy?

Shortly after receiving my PTA membership card, I became the local unit’s health and legislative chair and later became the legislation chair for the region.  PTA taught me a lot about the importance of advocacy through education and persistence that I later put to use to advocate for my own daughter when she wasn’t getting the diabetes care she needed at school.  PTA was a driving force in providing me with the advocacy skills and confidence to educate school administrators and legislators about how to best meet the needs of students with diabetes.   In 1999, I led a group of Virginia parents that pressed the Virginia General Assembly to pass the first comprehensive school diabetes care law in the country, a major victory for all children with diabetes living in Virginia.  This law is still in effect and is the gold standard for other states.

From this experience, the American Diabetes Association offered me a position where I could use my professional paralegal background, PTA experience and parent passion to make a difference.  Since 1999, I have had the honor and good fortune of leading the Association’s Safe at School Campaign through working with a committed team of staff and volunteers to achieve legislative and policy change in states and school districts nationwide

The Association’s Safe at School Campaign provides families, schools and health care providers with the resources they need to keep children with diabetes safe at school and to overcome any obstacles that might stand in the way.  As was my daughter’s case and for all children with diabetes, this includes advocating for training school staff members to provide care when a school nurse isn’t available.  It means advocating to change laws and policies so capable children can self-manage their own diabetes  anywhere in the school setting.  And it means fighting to protect the rights of children with diabetes so they can enjoy access to the same educational and extracurricular opportunities as their peers.

As a mother, an advocate and an employee, I am proud that the American Diabetes Association devotes significant resources and people-power to children with diabetes and their families and I’m grateful that one PTA parent voice became a voice for many.

Safe at School Resources

The American Diabetes Association’s Safe at School Campaign is dedicated to making sure all children with diabetes are medically safe at school and have the same educational opportunities as their classmates.

The American Diabetes Association’s August 15, 2013,  Back to School Parent Webinar includes a Safe at School campaign overview and information on school diabetes care challenges, federal and state law, developing 504 Plans and more. Watch the webinar or download the transcript (PDF).

The American Diabetes Association recommends parents/guardians to work with their child’s diabetes health care provider to develop a Diabetes Medical Management Plan (DMMP) before returning to school after diagnosis and to update the plan annually or as the child’s diabetes management needs change.  The DMMP details the diabetes care needed at school to keep students with diabetes safe and healthy. The Association’s DMMP template can be found at

The American Diabetes Association has a template Section 504 plan to help families and schools develop a plan to address training school staff members, academic adjustments, self-management, extracurricular activities, communication and the school’s responsibilities in meeting the needs of the child.  The template 504 plan can be found at

The American Diabetes Association also has information explaining the rights of children to receive care in the child care setting and post-secondary students rights

For other important information about diabetes for families and children go to