Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Start Planning for the School Year & 504 Plans!

So far summer has been pretty uneventful this year. I'm 8 months pregnant and not enjoying the heat. I feel bad that my little guy isn't getting to do much this summer. Momma just can't stand the heat!

I know this sounds crazy, but summer is half way done! For those of you sending your kids off to school in the fall, it's time to get your 504 plan in place soon. FAAN has a good link explaining what the 504 plan is, and how to go about getting it in place. Basically, if your child suffers from a life threaten food allergy the government considers this as a hidden disability. The 504 plan is available under the federal civil rights laws, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It is there to help you keep you child safe and set up accommodations with your public institution.

There also may be local resources available to help you with your 504, or written management plan. For instance, there is a nonprofit organization called Putnam and Westchester Living Centers here in NY. They provide services to parents with children with special needs (which includes life threatening food allergies). They have offered to come and do a workshop on 504 plans for the Food Allergy Families of Rockland support group I have co founded. I hope to get this set up soon as baby may be here soon, as well as the school year starting in about 6 to 8 weeks. Best of all their services are free of charge.

As Cormac isn't starting kindergarten for quite some time, I don't have any personal experience with setting up a 504 plan. In the time being, I am anxious to learn as much as I can. He will be attending preschool in the fall, and since it is private they do not have to do a 504 plan. However, I've already spoken to them about his food allergies, and are set to meet before school starts to set up his accommodations and procedures and to meet with his teacher.

My advise is to start looking into what you need to do to keep your kiddo safe in school now. You may not be able to meet with the school just yet, but get yourself on their schedule before school starts. Talk with your Dr. about what they feel is the best plan of action for the upcoming school year. Have all your ducks in a row so you are prepared to do what you have to. The more information you have on what they have to and not have to do will be your best weapon.

If you have any experience with this, please feel free to comment here or on the No Nuts For My Peanut facebook page. I'm sure there are plenty of people beside me who would like to hear what your expediences are.


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