Category Archives: Children with Special Needs

Bonnie Strickland Champion for Children’s Vision Award!

Call for Nominations for the 2016 Bonnie Strickland Champion for Children’s Vision Award!

Deadline, June 17, 2016
The National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health at Prevent Blindness is pleased to announce the call for nominations for the 2016 Bonnie Strickland Champion for Children’s Vision Award! The Award recognizes significant efforts by individuals or groups to improve children’s vision and eye health at the state or national level. Learn more.


School Nursing is a Professional Specialization

School Nurses are often the only health professional in a school building. There are no doctors down the hall to help in an emergency. There are often no other nurses in the building with whom to confer.

There is no one else on the education team who can interpret the impact of health conditions on learning except the School Nurse. In this setting, with the broad diversity of children and their medical needs, it is critically important that School Nurses be adequately prepared.

The additional education enables the School Nurse to evaluate the impact of health conditions upon the student’s ability to learn. The certification program for School Nurses provides professional training in the management of school age populations:

A baccalaureate degree in nursing (BSN) is a minimum requirement for becoming a Certified School Nurse. (Not all RNs hold baccalaureates; some RNs hold associate degrees or go through nondegree programs.) Washington State School Nurses also hold Educational Staff Associate certification.

In order to become a Certified School Nurse, the nurse must have training in:

  • child development
  • child abuse
  • educational psychology
  • school organization
  • working with special education students and English language learners
  • writing 504 plans and participating in the IEP process
  • advocating for students with special needs to access their education while attracting as little attention as possible to that student
  • managing school age populations
  • application of the distinct law governing students’ privacy rights in schools, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
  • the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA)
  • the Washington State Public School Code.

School Nurse candidates must complete a practicum in a School Nurse’s office, much as teachers must complete student teaching and doctors complete residencies.

School Nurse Certification provides for standardization of care among Washington’s school districts. Certification ensures that your child’s School Nurse is prepared to work with the school age population. If your child becomes sick at school, or is medically fragile, would you not desperately want your child’s School Nurse to be adequately prepared?

Source: PSEA

School nurses manage medically fragile children…

See testimony to the Washington State House Education Committee by Lori Miller, Mount Vernon School District, on the importance of school nurses in managing medically fragile children.

School Nurses Key in Managing Chronic Health Conditions

More children with chronic health conditions (CHC) are attending school, and some of them struggle academically because of issues related to their health.

School-based case management provided by a school nurse is the most effective way to improve the academic success of these children. The school nurse coordinates and conducts assessment, planning, and implementation of individualized health care plans for safe and effective management of students with health conditions during the school day.

Over the past few decades the number of students with CHC in schools has increased for a variety of reasons. Many students who had been confined to therapeutic settings are now being educated in the local school district in the least restrictive environment. Their right of participation is protected by federal law, including the
Rehabilitation Act, Section 504 and the Individuals with Disabilities Educational Act [IDEA] of 2004.

As survival rates associated with chronic conditions in infants and children continue to increase and life expectancy increases, the health care and educational service needs of students will increase. Many children with CHC now are able to attend school and succeed due to critical support services, including those provided by school nurses. The school nurse is a key member of the educational team and is the one who is responsible for planning, implementing, and monitoring the health care plans for students with CHC.

Below is a video chronicling four students with life threatening health conditions and their need for school health management:

This video was produced for presentation to the Washington State Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee of the Washington State Legislature. Source: Heron Cove Productions

School nurses evaluate students, often identifying conditions

Health care needs of students with chronic health conditions are complex and continuous. School nurses assist many children not served by the health care system and work to create access to health care for students and families. Students who may not have been identified as having a chronic condition prior to school entry are identified by school nurses who then coordinate evaluation and intervention services.

School nurses assist students in learning to manage chronic illness, increasing seat time in the classroom, decreasing student absenteeism, resulting in cost savings to the school district and an increase in the overall academic success of the student.

Source: Chronic Health Conditions Managed by School Nurses, National Association of School Nurses

Students with Food Allergies Need Emergency Care Plan

A school health plan will identify the types of responsibilities, training and services required to keep your child’s environment safe and how to respond to an emergency, should one arise.

As a parent sending your child off to school for the first time, it is normal to experience a myriad of emotions. Although this can be a time of great anticipation and excitement, all parents have the usual concerns: Will my child like his new school? Will he like his teacher? Will he get on the right school bus? Will the program be one that allows him to grow and learn in a positive environment?

Food Allergies

As a parent of a child with food allergies, you have yet another dimension added to the anticipation and worries of sending a child off to school.

In addition to all of the usual concerns, you will worry about his health needs and safety. What will he eat? How will he be able to participate safely in classroom and cafeteria activities? Will my child get sick at school? Will the school be able to respond promptly to an emergency? Does the school have a full time school nurse? Will the school arrange for my child to be given medicines or special asthma treatments during the school day?

Concerns such as these are legitimate and understandable. You will have to “let go” of your child for the first time, and entrust your child’s health to staff with whom you are unfamiliar. You will have to trust that the school staff will learn to manage your child’s allergies safely, and learn how to respond to any emergency.

How will you ensure that they do it?

The key is to work with the school cooperatively and proactively to create a comprehensive school health care plan. A school health care plan will identify the types of responsibilities, training and services required to keep your child’s environment safe and how to respond to an emergency, should one arise.

The three most common plans used for food allergic children are known as Emergency Care Plans (ECP), Individualized Healthcare Plans (IHCP) and 504 Plans. When registering your child for school, be sure to make an appointment to meet with the school nurse and complete your child’s care plan.

Source: Kids With Food Allergies web site; Written by Lynda Mitchell, MA

Washington school nurse shares her story…

Autism Supports

Autism Awareness Month may be winding down, but the Autism Outreach Project (AOP) work continues to grow.

AOP is a State Needs Project through the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, in collaboration with the Early Support for Infants and Toddlers program in the Department of Early Learning and NWESD.

Their mission is to provide information, training, and technical assistance to schools, families, and agencies with educational supports for individuals from birth to age 21 with autism spectrum disorder.

The AOP does not endorse any single method or intervention, but strives to provide information on a variety of evidence-based practices to meet the specific needs of individuals with autism.

Autism Outreach Project

AOP provides the following services to Washington State schools, families, and agencies:

Educational intervention, early intervention/screening, current research, school/home collaboration

Support groups, associations and agencies, autism consultants, diagnostic centers

Local, regional, and statewide workshops, Combined Summer Institute, video conference training

Special Events 
Information on autism conferences and special presentations statewide.

Lending Library
 Reference materials available for loan, including books, videos, and DVDs.

Brochure and resource guide available for download.

Technical Assistance
Individual consultation to schools and families, referral and coordination with autism specialists, and collaboration with agencies supporting children with autism spectrum disorder.

Autism Links
Comprehensive resource for information on autism.

To learn more, contact the Autism Outreach Project at toll-free at 1-888-704-9633 or email to

Source: Autism Outreach Project