How State Education Budget Cuts Could Affect Children with Food Allergies

State budget cuts for education are looming in the future for a number of states in the U.S., and mine is one of them.  The State of Texas is proposing drastic cuts to education in order to bridge a growing funding gap in the state budget.  In Texas, the budget cuts are already manifesting themselves in teacher layoffs, higher student to teacher ratios, modifying extra-curricular activities, and the prospect of traveling nurses for the end of 2011.

Regardless of your political affiliation or your view on the above budget dilemma, it is important to note that if these cuts go through for 2011, school-aged children will be impacted in a way they have never experienced before.  In addition to impact to the general student population, children who depend on a school nurse’s services may be without help during a time of crisis.

I took the time to visit with several teachers and doctors to define the position of traveling nurse and what it would mean for my child with life-threatening food allergies.  A traveling nurse is a registered school nurse that would split her time between two or more campuses.  This division of time could mean the nurse could spend weekday mornings at School A and weekday afternoons at School B.  The division of time could mean one day at School A and the next at School B…and it’s always a possibility that time could be even more sparsely divided depending on how the budget cuts fall.

As a parent of a child with food allergies, I wonder if a nurse will be on hand if my son has an asthma attack and needs his inhaler.  If a nurse isn’t present, who will administer the inhaler?  Will they know how to listen to his lungs for wheezing?  Will they know what signs of breathing distress to look for?

I wonder if a nurse will be on hand if my son has a food allergy reaction.  Who will administer the EpiPen?  Will they know how to administer the pen or will they have to waste precious time reading the directions?  Will someone be able to access the EpiPen at all times or will it be locked up causing someone to have to stop and look for a key?  If the nurse isn’t there and the “acting nurse” isn’t there, who will be a back-up?  How will personnel be trained?

For the sake of time and my sanity, I won’t even list half of the questions that immediately pop into my head on this issue.  It makes my heart too heavy.

The proposed budget cuts will affect each student in a different way.  But as the parent of a child with food allergies, I am adamantly against saving the state a few dollars by putting my son’s life on the line.  No amount of savings is worth that gamble.

If the state isn’t protecting our children, and the district isn’t protecting our children, WE must step up to the plate.  I urge you to read your newspapers and surf the web to see how your state is dealing with the recession and if budget cuts for your child’s school district is soon to be a reality.  Then, be ready to advocate, advocate, advocate.  Write your governor and your state representatives.  Blog about the dilemma at hand and enlist support.  Be active in events at the state’s capitol (Texas has a food allergy event in Austin on March 14th…see previous post for more details).  DO SOMETHING!!!!

You’re already online now checking out this blog post.  Why not send a quick email to your state representative and let them know how you feel?  It will be the most productive five minutes you spend today!

Blessings to you, my friends!

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