A 504 plan is a great way to keep your kids safe in school that few parents know about.
While the other forms address emergencies, a 504 Plan prevents exposures in the first place (again - peace of mind!)
These legally binding plans exist to provide accommodations and related services to students with special needs - including kids with food allergies! To write one, you’ll develop your own list of what you want the school to do to keep your child safe on a daily basis, and work with the school administration to lay out specific actions to achieve these goals.
When preparing a 504 plan, think through your child’s day, beginning to end, and create a plan of accommodations accordingly. We’ve worked with many food allergy families to create 504 plans that include measures such as:
Not every child needs a 504 plan, but it’s a good idea to meet with your child’s teacher, a school counselor, the school nurse, and an administrator, to make sure there’s a good, documented plan in place. There’s never a bad time to review your school safety plan and adopt a 504 plan if you so choose. If you choose to use one, you obtain the form directly from your school.
If you’d like help writing your 504 plan, including preparing for meetings, facilitating face to face with a school administrator, or simply filling out paperwork, Backstop is here to help. You can schedule a private appointment with one of our board certified pediatricians to brainstorm solutions. We want you to feel like you have support and backup.
This is the standard form for all children with food allergy in the U.S. It’s a written plan shared among your school, sports teams, and camp, so everyone is prepared in case your child has an allergic reaction.
This is how you can tell adults who care for your child what to look for in an emergency, and how to respond.
It includes individualized lists of symptoms to look out for, an explanation of when and how to use epinephrine, as well as emergency contact information. Everyone who comes in contact with your child - including teachers, school nurses, bus drivers, coaches, club advisors, and specialists - should be prepared in case of an exposure or anaphylaxis.
Before the school year starts, talk to your child’s school nurse and teachers. Don’t wait until August or decide to chat at your school open house when everyone is swamped! Set up a separate, individual conversation or meeting to achieve the optimal communication.
These forms will help the school understand your child’s allergies and designate how to handle allergic reactions and emergencies. Your district likely has a specific form that you will need to fill out.
These forms need to be jointly filled out by your allergist or pediatrician on an annual basis. To be successful, start in spring to look forward to the next school year and avoid the late summer backup at pediatrician’s offices. Bring all the forms with you, already filled out with as much information as you can. When they’re completed, scan or take a photo with your phone before submitting them to school, in case they get misplaced or another organization needs them, like camp.
One more quick piece of advice from the Backstop care team: It’s important to give yourself permission to advocate on behalf of your child. Schools must recognize the need to reduce the risk of allergens in the child’s environment, as well as know how to treat a reaction in a timeline fashion. Be confident and find the right partners in your journey who you can count on. Recognize that they might not know everything, but you will teach them about your child’s needs and how to ensure their safety. Ultimately, with your allergy action plan, your medical forms, and a 504 plan (if you choose to use one), you’ll have a comprehensive plan to keep your child safe.
You don’t have to walk this journey alone. We’ll be with you every step of the way.