The school care plan is based on directives from the child's diabetes health care team; it should specify details of how diabetes should be managed in all school settings. The translation of the medical management plan to a school health plan requires careful negotiation among health providers, families and school staff.
Effective advocates work to understand the concerns of school personnel and negotiate toward an agreement suitable to everyone involved, whether they are working on an individual care plan or whether they are working on a school system policy change.
Strategies for Advocates
Negotiate With Local School Personnel
- Sometimes education alone will be enough to change policy or practice. Other times, change will happen only after negotiation of mutual concerns.
- In developing the child's education plan (such as a Section 504 plan or IEP), you may need to negotiate with school officials. You are more likely to reach an agreement if you attempt to understand and be sensitive to the concerns of school personnel and negotiate toward an agreement suitable to everyone involved.
- Do not sign a plan unless you agree with it.
Be Assertive, But Not Aggressive in Your Communication
Here are some examples:
- "I am advocating for what my child needs; I expect you to listen respectfully."
- "I am well-informed about current recommendations for how diabetes should be optimally managed in schools."
- "I know you have many other issues on your plate and you may not be well informed about diabetes management, and I am willing to share information with you from the American Diabetes Association and other diabetes professionals."
- "I am willing to work with you to eliminate present barriers; I will listen to your concerns respectfully. I will work for a win-win solution that benefits all."
Organize and collaborate with other parents and concerned individuals/organizations to work for change.
- Mobilize your known allies – those who have heard your concerns and agree with you. Encourage them to educate school personnel, contact policy-makers, and get involved to advocate for change.
- Find and mobilize other allies. Reach them where they are already gathered: support groups, diabetes organizations' fund-raising events, camp orientation meetings, etc. Educate them about the need for change. Give them something to do to support the efforts for change.
- Find and mobilize state and local contacts:
- Briefly and clearly state what action you want. Send an alert (mail, fax, e-mail) to spread your message far and wide. Urge recipients of the alert to send it to their networks, boards, staff, coalitions, volunteers, and media contacts.
- Set up and activate telephone trees to get the message out.
- Get on the agenda for community group meetings and statewide conferences (school nurse associations; professional meetings of school psychologists or social workers, medical and legal professional organizations, school boards).
- Work with other interested individuals and organizations to raise the volume of concern.
Contact the Media to Create Community Awareness and Interest
- Alert the media to events that would provide good visuals, including meetings with your school health advisory council or school boards. Invite media representatives to your programs.
- Write Op-eds and Letters to the Editor of your local newspaper. Time your op-eds and letters to correspond with a high visibility issue.
- Meet with the Editorial Board or education reporter of your local newspaper.
Contact Elected Officials as a Source of Assistance
ADA works to influence local and national policies about diabetes in schools by engaging a wide range of partners in negotiations to resolve conflicts, collaborative and negotiating partners include schools, school districts, professional teacher and nurse organizations and policy boards.