New school year stressful for parents of type 1 kids

Diabetes Australia today acknowledged that parents and carers of 11,000 Australian children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes are likely to face more challenges than most as they begin the new school year.

“There are more than 1000 school age children who have been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in the past year, and for these students and their families, as well as those already living with type 1 diabetes, starting a new school or having new teachers can be overwhelming and challenging,” Diabetes Australia CEO Professor Greg Johnson said.

“It is critical that principals and school staff are equipped to support students with type 1 diabetes and that these children don’t experience discrimination or adverse impacts as a result of their condition,” said Professor Johnson.

“It’s important that parents feel they can work together with schools, health care providers and support organisations to ensure their children have a diabetes management plan that works for everyone.”

Late last year, Diabetes Australia conducted nationwide consultation with more than 1000 families, 700 school staff, more than 320 health professionals, as well as peak health and education organisations and state and territory government departments to better understand how to make the day-to-day experience of children with type 1 diabetes attending schools more manageable and less stressful.

Some of the key findings of the consultation included:

  • confusion and inconsistency from state to state about the roles and responsibilities of parents, schools and treating clinical teams in treating children with type 1 diabetes;
  • inconsistency in education and training programs available to support schools with students with type 1 diabetes;
  • parents often bear the responsibility of day to day diabetes management support of children with type 1 diabetes at the school meaning they are unable to work or endure ongoing stress;
  • individualised diabetes management plans for children with type 1 diabetes are often outdated or inaccurate;
  • training gaps for schools with students with type 1 diabetes, particularly in relation to new technologies such as Continuous Glucose Monitors which were recently subsidised by the Australian Government and are now used by thousands of children with type 1 diabetes;
  • the absence of an accurate or comprehensive data source on the schools that children with type 1 diabetes attend, or the schools that have received training and education about insulin administration and type 1 diabetes.

With the support of the Australian Government and in collaboration with the Australian Diabetes Educators Association, JDRF Australia, Australian Diabetes Society, and the Australasian Paediatric Endocrine Group, Diabetes Australia is currently developing a new national Diabetes in Schools Program to be implemented by mid-2019.

Diabetes Australia will work with parents and families, principals and schools, and key health and education experts to design the new Diabetes in Schools program that will include a new national, three-tiered type 1 diabetes training and education program that will ensure principals and school staff have the skills necessary to support children at school.

The program will be delivered later in 2019. In the meantime, any parents who are feeling anxious about how their child’s diabetes will be managed while at school should call the NDSS Helpline on 1300 136 588.

Useful information and a range of resources to help parents and children manage diabetes at school can be found at Diabetes Queensland’s Diabetes Basics website.

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