Need advice with Schools/daycare

Posted on: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 8:56am
rkeller's picture
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Joined: 02/08/2010 - 15:44

My three year old has a severe peanut allergy amoung other issues. His daycare is a "Peanut Free Zone" and we love all of his teachers and the daycare's director. I am terribly frustrated because other parents keep brining in peanut products for birthday parties, halloween, snacks in the morning, etc. Just today he was provided a birthday treat back chalk full of peanut candy! We carry epi pens, and my son had his first exposure around valentines day last year. He stopped breathing within 10 minutes of the exposure (with benadryll). We were warned that his next exposure would create a faster reaction and could be fatal.

I am at my wits end. How do I relay to the school and the parents of the other children that they can KILL my son. I feel like I sound like a crazed mother. And I think sometimes the daycare workers think I am over-reacting.

How do you guys handle this? I am afraid to take him away from his "second home" and all of his friends. These ladies have helped me to raise him. I fear that we will have these same issues at other daycares. As he gets older it is so much harder to keep him safe.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Scared and frustrated!
Robin in NC

Posted on: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 12:51pm
jenniferbfab's picture
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Joined: 05/04/2008 - 12:43

Hi Robin,
I am sorry you are facing this difficult situation.
My son's preschool was peanut-free. The school was responsible for snacks/treats and the students were not allowed to bring food for home except for lunch, which was peanut-free and eaten in a different room. They had a list of snacks which I reviewed.
If the daycare is going to be peanut-free, and the parents don't "get it", it sounds like they need to forbid families from bringing in snacks or treats. Or--even though many people advise against safe snack lists because ingredients and manufacturing processes can change at any time--you may want to come up with a safe snack list so parents can use that as a guide and bring in items ONLY on the list.
Also, can you get a letter from your allergist explaining your son's situation and the risk of a fatal allergic reaction?
See this article by Linda Coss also: http://www.foodallergybooks.com/Media_Files/attack_pb_sandwich.htm It might be helpful to bring it in to your daycare.
These are a few thoughts off the top of my head. I'm fading a bit now, but if I come up with more tomorrow, I'll post again.
Hope this info helps some.
Best wishes,
Jennifer B
www.foodallergybuzz.com
www.peanutallergy.com

Posted on: Mon, 02/08/2010 - 11:22pm
BestAllergySites's picture
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Joined: 03/15/2009 - 21:46

Robin,
I feel your pain. I went through the same thing when my kiddo was in preschool. He is now in 1st grade. I promise--it does get easier over time.
First I must ask--is this a public or private preschool/daycare and do they receive funding form the state?
I ask because any school that receives funding from the state must follow disability laws and life threatening food allergies ARE a disability under law. Therefore--you could get them to enforce the peanut free policy.
That being said--if the policy of the daycare is peanut free you need to talk to the owner/director. Tell her how much you love it there but that these parents are putting your child's life at risk.
Brainstorm some ideas with her:
Stick to peanut free policy, put it in policy handbook, have signs on classroom doors, send letters home to families. Have no food whatsoever for these events. Have packaged labeled food only. Tell parents that food that comes in that does not meet guidelines will be tossed or sent home.
If the parents aren't getting it, the school is not doing a good job enforcing it. If you can't get the school/daycare on your side--you might need to consider leaving.
If you have to strongarm them--I would point out the legal liability should your son have a reaction when they told you the daycare was peanut free. I'd leave that as a last resort.
Hope this helps! I know it is frustrating to have to deal with but you are doing a great job!
Ruth

Posted on: Fri, 02/12/2010 - 3:13am
nicksmom2448's picture
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Joined: 09/16/2009 - 08:52

Hi,
Like Ruth said, it does get easier over time! My son was 14 months old when he was diagnosed and now he is 12 and in middle school! There is hope! Over the years, he has experienced part-day day care for awhile, preschool, & public elementary.
I think the advice Ruth and Jennifer have given you is super! My only other advice is to not panic (I know it is VERY hard) and keep the lines of communication open. Try to convey that you want to work together to find a solution. Believe me, I know it is hard. It is so important to have people on your side.
Also, I've noticed over the years that it has been my son's CLASSMATES that have been the best at reminding their parents about my son's allergy. I had one of his buddies come up to me the other night in fact and out of the blue say that he is always careful about what he eats around Nick! I told him how much I appreciate him taking such care.
You also could think about asking if you could do a short presentation and read a children's book to the class/day care group about life-threatening food allergies. Go to FAAN and buy some Be A PAL stickers to give the kids. Seriously, in my experience, these kids tend to watch out for their friends better than the friend's parents do.
Anyway, have a safe Valentine's Day and keep us posted.
Nick's Mom

Posted on: Fri, 02/12/2010 - 3:41am
jenbug's picture
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Joined: 01/20/2010 - 09:59

I have a question about pre schools as well. My son will be starting Pre-K next September, he will be 4 in October. I found this private school that I really like. They are certified in CPR and first-aid, plus they have a few other kids with nut allergies. I am able to leave an epi pen and benedryl with the teacher and nurse, this makes me feel comfortable. They also post a sign in every room of the kids with allergies. For snack time the school only does nut free snacks and on party/event days I can go to school with JT so he doesn't miss out on the fun. The only problem that I see is that parents can pack a kid a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch. They will make sure that they are sitting at separate table, JT will only sit with kids that bring a nut free lunch. Is this safe or should I look for a different school?

Posted on: Wed, 08/04/2010 - 12:40am
gesundheit's picture
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Joined: 07/25/2010 - 13:50

Severe peanut allergy is defined as a disability according to the ADA definition. Therefore, according to ADA Title III, all places of public accommodation, such a private and public schools, may not discriminate. That means they must provide reasonable accommodations to your child. If that means having a peanut free classroom to ensure your child's safety, that's what they need to do by law. Tell them that they need to keep the unsafe food out--it's their responsibility, their "burden of care". If they say that it's "too hard", mention that, if needed, you will file a discrimination complaint with the state civil rights commission. That's what I did after my child's private preschool expelled her when I asked that they keep peanuts out of the classroom. We had a mediation session with the state civil rights comission, and things quickly changed for the better.
Now, in public schools, and in private schools that receive any kind of federal funding, even if it's just funding for the school lunch program, they have to be in compliance with Section 504, also a federal civil rights law. So you can formally request a Section 504 plan at those schools (through the special ed dept, usually) detailing all the medical accommodations needed. I've been through this as well, and can give lots of advice.

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