Can my child with cancer attend school?
One of the challenges families face when their son or daughter has been diagnosed with Cancer is deciding how to maintain some type of normalcy. Attending school while in treatment for cancer is one way to maintain a sense of normalcy. However, determining whether your son or daughter can return to school is a decision made between the family and pediatric oncology team.
Below is a brief description of steps to take if your child can return to school. It is important to be aware that your child has legal rights to an educational program that will meet their needs due to their diagnoses of cancer. The Laws that protect your child’s right to an education is Individuals with Disability Act (IDEA) and the Civil Rights Act: Section 504.
Some suggestions for families once they learn their child has cancer:
- Contact your school nurse, guidance counselor, or teacher.
- Give your school contact a letter from your pediatric oncologist that states your child’s diagnoses of cancer.
- Make sure the letter includes information about what your child can and cannot do during the school day.
- The letter is proof that your child may need some extra help in school.
- It is important that you find out from your child’s oncologist whether your child is able to attend school and if so, how often.
(For example: Will your child be receiving out-patient treatment or in-patient treatment?)
- If he/she is receiving in-patient treatment, then your child will receive special education assistance from the teacher working in the Pediatric Oncology Department.
- If he/she is receiving out-patient treatment, then it is likely your child may need some extra educational support from your child’s school.
- It is not uncommon for children undergoing cancer treatment to receive both in-patient and out-patient medical treatment at some point. One should always remember that each child is unique.
National Grace Foundation
“I have over 17 years of experience in admissions, financial aid and academic advising at top colleges and universities in the country. I understand how the college admission and financial aid process can be very confusing, intimidating and down right frustrating. Families pay upwards of $4,000 to private counselors to help navigate through the college admissions/financial aid maze. I know first hand all of the out of pocket expenses that families incur while their children are being treated, and spending thousands of dollars on these services is out of the question for many families. That’s where the National GRACE Foundation comes in.”
What do I say to my child’s teacher?
- You have a Legal Right* to request assistance from your child’s school.
- When a child is diagnosed with cancer he/she is eligible for special education services (IDEA*).
- The type of services will depend on your child’s needs.
- Again, make sure that your school is aware that your child has cancer.
- Request a meeting with all the teachers and counselors working with your child.
- If you can, bring your spouse, or other relative to provide you with support as this can be a very emotional experience.
- Let the school know that your child may be in school part-time because of his medical condition. (They should be aware of this situation.)
- Don’t worry, under +Section 504 of the Civil Rights Law. No child can be discriminated against due to their medical diagnoses. The school is obligated to provide your child with assistance.
- A tutor to work with your child at home
- Extra set of text books if needed
- Homework assignments sent home or to the hospital
- Extra time to complete homework assignments. (Make sure you and your child talk to the teacher about homework. The child needs to understand that he/she is still responsible to try to get work done, within reason. This is good for their mental health as well.)
- Encourage your child to attend school whenever they can. This is really important for your child’s emotional strength. It is important to continue to stay in contact with their friends. Children and teenagers tend to feel very isolated and alone when going through cancer treatment.
The Link below is an example of a 504 plan for student with medical issues. You can use the format for your child. Take a copy of this plan with you to your meeting.
The Link below provides a description of IDEA and Section 504.
If you still have questions please contact us at email@example.com
If you have any questions about your legal rights contact the Ohio Coalition for the Education of Children with Disabilities (OCECD).
Ohio Coalition for the Education of Children with Disabilities (OCECD)
The Ohio Coalition for the Education of Children with Disabilities (OCECD) is a statewide, nonprofit organization that serves families of infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities in Ohio, and agencies who provide services to them. OCECD works through the coalition efforts of over 40 parent and professional disability organizations which comprise the Coalition.
Established in 1972 and staffed primarily by parents of children and adults with disabilities, persons with disabilities, and education professionals, the Coalition mission is to ensure that every Ohio child with special needs receives a free, appropriate, public education in the least restrictive environment to enable that child to reach his/her highest potential. Throughout Ohio, the Coalition’s services reach families of children and youth, birth through twenty-six, with all disabilities.
OCECD’s programs help parents become informed and effective representatives for their children in all educational settings. In addition, youth are assisted to advocate for themselves. Through knowledge about laws, resources, rights and responsibilities, families are better able to work with agencies to ensure that appropriate services are received for the benefit of their sons and daughters. Below is a link to OCECD’s Constitution, Bylaws,
Regional Map, Annual Report and Special Education Profile.
Ohio Coalition for the Education of Children with Disabilities works with parents to help get them the assistance they need. If you need one-to-one assistance, call 1 (800) 374-2806 ext. 20 or visit www.ocecd.org.
+Section 504 of the Civil Rights Act: ensures that your child cannot be discriminated against due to their diagnoses of Cancer. What this means is that your child’s illness may limit their ability to attend school on a regular basis and may need more time to finish homework assignments. Your child may need a tutor to visit them at home while they are recovering from chemotherapy treatments or surgery.
Note: That Section 504 is available for College Aged Students are well!!! However, the nature of the modifications to the student’s educational program will be between the student and the Student’s with Disabilities Services Department at your college or university.