Parental Guidance for School 504s and IHCPs
Here are some very practical guides for developing Emergency Care Plans, Individualized Healthcare Plans and 504 Plans for children with allergies in school. Links to sample plans and descriptions of each type are included. If you can start the process now, everything will be in place by the first day of school.
Back to School Suggestions for Families with Life-threatening Allergies
August 10th, 2015
By Janet Goldman
If you have a child with severe allergies, it may be a good idea to arrange a meeting with your school’s principal, preferably before the school year begins. Begin by explaining your child’s allergies, and then request a health care plan to provide for his/her safety at school. This plan should identify responsibilities, training and services to guarantee a safe environment as well as how to respond to an attack of anaphylaxis.
There are three plans commonly used for children with food allergies: Emergency Care Plans, Individualized Healthcare Plans and 504 Plans. The Emergency Care Plan includes what your child is allergic to, his/her symptoms, the recommended treatment, instructions for calling 911 to take your child to the hospital and emergency contacts. The Individualized Healthcare Plan includes the Emergency Care Plan and explains what the school team will do to decrease the likelihood of allergen exposure, recognition of symptoms and quick treatment. The 504 Plan is similar to the Individualized Healthcare Plan but is also legally binding with a procedure for complaints.
Section 504 is part of a federal civil rights law, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This is a written management plan which explains how your child’s school will meet his/her individual needs throughout the school day, ensuring his/her safety. This plan can include multiple components concerning school staff, how they will be trained, use and training of substitute teachers, emergency procedures, the cafeteria and bus transportation. An important part of this plan is a section which explains how to recognize and treat an allergic reaction. Here is a link to a Webinar describing differences between 504 and IHCPs.
Sample 504 Plans can be found at:
Approval for a 504 Plan may require documentation from your child’s allergist indicating the assessment that your child’s allergies could cause life-threatening reactions. If your allergist thinks your child should have access to an epinephrine auto injector at certain locations, you could request an accommodation from your school. Your child might not qualify for such a plan. Instead, you could request an Individualized Health Care Plan. After developing your child’s plan, whichever it may be, make sure that it’s in writing. Review it yearly and adjust as necessary to meet your child’s changing needs. A sample Individualized Health Care Plan can be found at:
If your school won’t make accommodations for your child’s health care needs, contact your district’s superintendent or your district’s 504 Coordinator, in writing. If necessary your next step might be to contact the New York Department of Education which enforces compliance.
In private schools which are not funded by federal money, students with severe allergies can be protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Similar health care plans can be established in these schools. Colleges which receive some form of federal funding assistance are also covered by Section 504 regulations. (See “Going to College Preparation Strategies, by the Allergy & Asthma Network.)
As summer ends and fall begins, good luck and best wishes from the Allergy Advocacy Association!