KinderCare agrees to accept diabetic children
August 22, 1996
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- KinderCare Inc., the nation's largest day-care provider, has agreed to accept children with diabetes and perform a blood test required to monitor their blood sugar level, the Justice Department announced Thursday.
Officials said they had no figures on how many children would be affected by the settlement, but predicted it would have "a significant impact." More than 100,000 U.S. children under the age of 18 have diabetes.
Attorney General Janet Reno said the Justice Department became involved in the case because "children with diabetes shouldn't be left on the sidelines."
The settlement, she said, "means that children with diabetes and their families will have the same day-care opportunities as any other family in America."
The settlement stemmed from a lawsuit brought by an Ohio family under provisions of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. Three-year-old Jesi Stuthard was refused a place in a KinderCare facility near Columbus, because the day-care chain said the requirement to test the child's blood was burdensome.
The American Diabetes Association and the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund disputed the chain's claim, and backed the boy's family. They said the day-care provider would only have to conduct a simple test, pricking the child's finger to draw a drop of blood, which is placed on a small hand-held device to get an immediate blood sugar measurement.
"This test is safe. It is simple. It is inexpensive. And it takes less than a minute to perform," Reno said. If a child's blood sugar level is found to be too low, the center will provide the child with orange or apple juice to raise it back to normal levels.
Under the agreement, parents have the responsibility for insulin injections, which may be given to a child before and after the work day, and KinderCare staff are protected from liability as long as the staff exercises reasonable care.
The KinderCare chain operates more than 1,100 child-care centers in 38 states. Texas has the most with 124 centers, followed by California, Illinois and Ohio. But the Justice Department made clear it expects smaller child-care operators to also accept child diabetics.
"We hope other child-care facilities will do the right thing and follow KinderCare's lead," Reno said.
Justice Department officials said the requirement under the federal disabilities law applies even to day-care providers who care for just a few children in their homes.
Officials said the settlement does not apply to public schools, because schools have not turned away diabetic children. Nonetheless, schools are being encouraged to accommodate diabetics as much as possible.
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