When Having a Medical Action Plan is Mentioned, Do You Think of your Child?

When is a Medical Action Plan necessary and do I need more than one?

In a school setting a medical action plan is required if your child has a life-threatening illness or a condition (Asthma, cardiac, seizure disorders, food allergies) and/or require giving out medication and medical monitoring (Diabetes, complex on going medical needs, mental/behavioral health). Many school districts have asthma, epi pen, food allergy, and seizure disorder specific medical action templates and a general one for all other needs. It is important to contact your school nurse before the school year starts to see where you can get the templates and to see what documentation you need. Some districts also require a Doctors input or signature, especially if medication is involved. It is good to schedule a doctor’s visit in late July or August to help fill out the action plan so that you can get any input and signatures you may need.

It is good to meet with the school nurse and the staff working with your child to go through the action steps of an emergency if your child has an active, life threatening condition such as cardiac, seizure, severe asthma, or anaphylactic shock allergic reactions. In middle school and high school, it is important to have the student be a part of this meeting so that they can express what their triggers may be and what it looks like when they have an episode. Often it is not stated when to call 911 so be sure to be clear about stating the circumstances that require the 911 call and make sure it is written into the action plan. Many specialists and pediatrician also have premade action plan that they can run off and you can attach to the district templates so be sure and ask your child’s provider.

Please note, a Medical Action plan is not a 504 plan.  Click here to learn more about what a 504 plan is all about

Below are links to guide you:

Diabetes Management Plan

Asthma Action Plan

Emergency Care Plans

Five Action Plans Templates for Schools

A second medical action plan is the one you have for home and travel. This action plan pulls all of the medical information together in a file or note book for your child or youth. Inside of this you will put the diagnosis, the medications, emergency contacts, and other pertinent information. It should also contain information on what an emergency looks like and what steps to take to deal with it. This will reflect your medical action plan at school but should talk about the steps taken at home, other people’s house, or in the community. An “information at a glance” sheet is a good piece to put on your fridge for first responders to grab in an emergency. This sheet can also be used when you or your child are out in the community

Child Find: What Parents Need to Know

What is Child Find?

Child Find is part of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA, Part C).  It requires states to identify, locate, and screen all children with disabilities, between the ages of birth to 21, who are in need of early intervention or special education services. States do this through all public schools in each state.

Child Find applies to all children who live in a state, including children who attend private schools and public schools, migrant children, homeless children, children whose families move often, and children who are wards of the state. It includes all children who might have a disability, including children who get passing grades and are “advancing from grade to grade.” The law does not require children to be “labeled” or classified by their disability.

How does Child Find work?

School districts run their Child Find programs in a variety of ways. Here are some examples:

Train teachers to recognize the signs that a student might need screening for a disability

Publicize information that tells parents about the benefits of screening and how to get their child screened

Offer workshops or other trainings to parents on screening, early intervention and special education

Early intervention is a free system of services and supports that help infants and toddlers from birth to age three who have a developmental delay or a disability. Special education is available from age three and up. Preschools and schools offer specialized teaching and related support services to meet the needs of each child who qualifies.

Should I bring my child to be screened for early intervention?

Yes, if you think he or she is not growing and developing like other children of the same age.  You can do this even if your pediatrician believes there is no cause for concern.  If there is a problem, your child will do better the earlier services are started.

If you aren’t sure if your baby or toddler is developing typically, you can use this resource to help you decide if your child should be screened: http://www.parentcenterhub.org/repository/milestones/

If your child is under age three, the local school district provides free screenings for that age group, usually at scheduled times. The screening is free. Or, contact your state’s Early Intervention program: http://ectacenter.org/contact/ptccoord.asp

What is the screening process like?

The screening checks development in 6 areas:

  • Physical skills (reaching, crawling, walking, drawing, building)
  • Cognitive skills (thinking, learning, solving problems)
  • Communication skills (talking, listening, understanding others)
  • Self-help or adaptive skills (eating, dressing)
  • Social or emotional skills (playing, interacting with others)
  • Sensory processing skills (handling textures, tastes, sounds, smells)

The screening uses typical play situations to check the 6 areas, like stacking blocks, drawing, counting, cutting with scissors, jumping, etc.  Screening time may take between 45 minutes up to 2 hours.

How will I know the results of the screening?

In some school districts, you will get an immediate report.  In others, you may have to wait for a letter.  If the screening shows a need for early intervention or special education services, you will get information on how to get those services.

What are the benefits of having my child screened?

You will find out if your child would benefit from early intervention or special education services.

Your child will receive services that help him or her develop in those areas where the screening showed he or she was not developing like other children, such as:

  • Physical skills (reaching, crawling, walking, drawing, building)
  • Cognitive skills (thinking, learning, solving problems)
  • Communication skills (talking, listening, understanding others)
  • Self-help or adaptive skills (eating, dressing)
  • Social or emotional skills (playing, interacting with others)
  • Sensory processing skills (handling textures, tastes, sounds, smells)

Early intervention services can include speech and language therapy, physical therapy, psychological services, home visits, medical, nursing, or nutrition services, hearing or vision services.

In most cases, services are provided in your home or perhaps a child care setting-the goal is for services to take place in the child’s natural environment. Occasionally a child may have to visit a service provider’s office.

Is there any cost for the screening?  What about costs for the services?

There is NO charge for a Child Find screening. There are NO charges for early intervention or special education services.

What if my child is age three or older?

If your child is age three and older, you can request a special education screening (called an evaluation) from the public school in your area. This evaluation is free.

What is the evaluation like?

This evaluation is given by a team that includes you (the parents), a teacher (preschool or public school teacher), a special education professional from the school district, someone who will explain your child’s evaluation results and tell you what type of special education your child may need, your child (if appropriate), and specialists who will give the evaluation “tests” (assessments) to your child.

The “tests” check how well he or she is doing in many different areas.  There are no right or wrong answers to these tests. The tests measure your child’s development and progress in the following areas:

  • Thinking (reasoning, abstract thinking, problem-solving)
  • Ability to understand spoken language
  • Ability to explain ideas and give information by speaking
  • Ability to understand facial expressions and body language
  • Ability to express themselves with facial expressions and body language (make a sad face, act scared)
  • Ability to tell different sounds apart, remember what they hear, and understand it
  • Ability to see differences in pictures and designs, remember what they see, and understand it
  • Physical skills
  • Getting along with other people
  • Reading, writing, math, spelling
  • Vision and hearing tests

The assessments will also include a chance for you to give the evaluators your child’s health history

Here is a link to a more detailed list of assessments: http://www.kcdsg.org/files/content/Assesments_chart.pdf

You will need to ask for a special education evaluation in writing.  Here’s a link to a sample letter: https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/evaluations/evaluation-basics/toolkit-for-parents-sample-letters-for-requesting-evaluations-and-reports

How will I be informed of my child’s results?

The school will inform you in writing. A meeting will be scheduled with the team to develop a special education plan for your child.  This is called an Individualized Education Plan, or IEP.

A much more detailed look at the evaluation process for special education is available at If my child qualifies for special education, what types of teaching and services will he or she get?

Children ages 3 to 5 usually receive special education and related services at preschools run by a school district.  When your child is old enough to attend public school, special education and related services are provided at and through the school. All special education and related services are free.

Special education is specifically designed just for your child: it is “individualized” education. It gives a child the resources he or she needs to make progress in school.  Special education may take place with your child in the regular classroom, sometimes with a paraprofessional for support; sometimes it takes place in small groups or one-on-one with a teacher specifically trained to work with a child’s disability). Sometimes your child will learn in a classroom taught by a special education teacher who is trained to teach students with different types of disabilities.  Your child’s special education should be based on what he or she needs to make progress in school.

Each child receiving special education has an Individualized Education Plan, or IEP.  Parents, teachers, specialists, and the child (when old enough) develop this plan, and school personnel carry it out with your child.  Plans are updated on a regular basis or as needed.  For more information about IEPs,
go to Parent Center Hub

“Related services” aren’t education, but therapies and supports that are needed for your child to be able to benefit from their education.

Services can include speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, mental health counseling, training parents and children in positive behavior interventions, and even transportation to and from school and sometime to and from extracurricular activities.

What happens if someone else, like a child care provider or school teacher wants my child to be evaluated?

You will get a formal notice (a letter) for your permission to have your child screened for a possible disability.  You will have to provide your formal consent, usually by signing and returning a form to the agency or school district sending the letter.

Do I have to have my child screened?  What are my rights in this situation?

You do not have to give your permission for your child to be screened. If you refuse to give permission, you have the right to change your mind and ask for a screening/evaluation later.

It’s possible that the school district may ask you to take part in the mediation process, where they will offer their reasons for screening/evaluating your child, and you can offer your reasons for refusing. If after the mediation process you still refuse permission, the school district can begin a legal procedure called “due process” to allow them to screen/evaluate without your permission.

In practice, this does not happen very often. And the due process procedure may result in a decision that your child does not have to be screened/evaluated.


  • Federal law requires public schools to find and screen children who may need early intervention or special education
  • Screening and evaluations are free
  • Early intervention and special education are free
  • You can ask that your child be screened or evaluated for early intervention or special education. You do this by contacting the public school in your neighborhood, even if your child doesn’t go to public school.
  • You, as the parent(s), have the right to decide whether your child gets evaluated for services.

If you’d like more information about Child Find, Early Intervention, or Special Education, feel free to contact us at PAVE: Partnerships for Action, Voices for Empowerment.

Phone: 1-800-572-7368 or email: pave@wapave.org


Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Affirms the Importance of Parent Participation

In a decision handed down on June 13, 2013 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a district court’s judgment, that the Hawaii Department of Education had not violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) by holding a student’s annual Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting without the participation of a parent.  While changes to the IDEA in the past nine years have further defined the rights of parents, school districts have had the ability to hold an IEP meeting without a parent IF they have made a “good faith effort to hold the meeting on an agreed-on time and place.”

The Hawaii Department of Education argued that the school was justified in holding the meeting without the parent because they had scheduled the meeting on three different occasions and the parent had been unable to make any of those dates. While school districts can hold a meeting without the parent in attendance they must assure that by doing so they have not denied the student his or her procedural safeguards with regard to parental participation. The Ninth Circuit pointed out that there were a number of cases that emphasized the importance of having a parent participate in the development of an IEP.  In their decision they state, “A meeting may only be conducted without a parent [if] the public agency is unable to convince the parents that they should attend.” In which case, “the agency must keep a detailed record of its attempts to include the parent.” The decision went on further to say, “in Shapiro, we clarified the limited circumstances under which a public agency can hold an IEP meeting without parental participation. We held that parental involvement in the ‘creation process’ requires the [agency] to include the [parents in an IEP meeting] unless they (the parent) affirmatively refused to attend.”

During the arguments before the Ninth Circuit Court the parent pointed out that he had provided notice each time the district gave dates that he could not attend on those dates (the last because he was ill), and offered alternate dates. The district argued that they had rescheduled with “13 individuals” and they had also offered to have the parent participate by phone. The father explained to the school he wanted to be at the meeting in person. When the school couldn’t get the meeting scheduled the with their last offer of two alternate dates that were in the same week as the date the father couldn’t attend because he was ill, the district representative decided to hold the meeting without the parent there. Their reasoning was that if they didn’t hold the meeting until the following week they would be out of compliance since the IEP expired at the end of the week.

The Court of Appeals said that the district’s reasoning for holding the meeting without the parent was based on the flawed premise that if they didn’t hold the meeting by the end of the week they would have to cease services. This had already been decided by the courts in an earlier decision where they had determined that just because an IEP expires it doesn’t mean a district must stop providing existing services.

The court went on further to point out that if you were to look at the two procedural provisions the school was considering when they decided to hold the meeting without the parents; denial of parental participation vs. procedural timelines, that parental participation had the most importance. In their decision they stated, “Parental participation is key to the operation of the IDEA for two reasons: Parents not only represent the best interests of their child in the IEP development process, they also provide information about the child critical to developing a comprehensive IEP and which only they are in a position to know.” The decision went on further to say, “Indeed, the Supreme Court has stressed that the IDEA’s structure relies upon parental participation to ensure the substantive success of the IDEA in providing quality education to disabled students: [W]e think that the importance Congress attached to these procedural safeguards cannot be gainsaid (overstated). It seems to us no exaggeration to say that Congress placed every bit as much emphasis upon compliance with procedures giving parents and guardians a large measure of participation at every stage of the administrative process as it did upon the measurement of the resulting IEP against a substantive standard. We think that the congressional emphasis upon full participation of concerned parties throughout the development of the IEP . . . demonstrates the legislative conviction that adequate compliance with the procedures prescribed would in most cases assure much if not all of what Congress wished in the way of substantive content in an IEP.” Simply put, this meant that the court felt that the parent being involved was absolutely critical, especially in light of the decision made by the district to move the child from the private school placement he had been in (at the expense of the district) for the past several years. The decision for the move was made not only without the parent in attendance but also without any representative of the private school in attendance. The court made clear in their ruling that, “The Department minimizes the importance of parental participation under the IDEA when it argues that (the parent) would have had little to contribute at the IEP meeting. The Department is in no position to question the value of (the parent’s) input. Congress already answered that question when it prioritized parental participation in the IEP process”.

The decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will require districts and families alike to consider the importance of getting parents involved in the development of the IEP for the student. Districts will need to assure they give families ample opportunity to participate to include offering the chance to do so by phone or video conferencing, and proposing a mutually agreed upon time and place for the meetings. Parents will need to recognize the importance of making a “good faith effort” to agree to dates and times, to include suggesting alternate dates and/or times for the meetings to take place and to provide timely notice if they can’t attend.  The bottom line will always be assuring the needs of the student with disabilities are met. This requires partnering and flexibility on the part of all concerned.