Beach-Vitale Bill To Protect Medically-Fragile Kids In School Passes Both Houses, Heads To Governor

A view of the Senate Chambers from the 2010-2011 Senate Reorganization.

Would Allow Parents to Choose Care Providers in School

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senators Jim Beach and Joseph F. Vitale that would protect medically-fragile students and allow parents a choice in care providers for their children during the school day was unanimously approved by both the State Senate and the General Assembly today.

“Parents of medically-fragile students provide constant care and attention at home and deserve to have that same level of care while their children are in school,” said Senator Beach, D-Camden. “Currently, school districts can contract with any nursing company or vendor whether or not they are trained to handle the student’s unique health needs. It is imperative that this policy be corrected to provide both a consistency of care for the child and sense of ease for the parents that their child will be safe at school.”

The bill, S-375/A-1838, would require that a provider of clinical nursing services to a medically-fragile student must meet the same certification standards that are required by the Department of Human Services for Medicaid and NJ FamilyCare program clinical nurses.

Additionally, the bill would allow for the parent or guardian of the medically fragile student to choose the provider of the clinical nursing services as long as it would not increase costs for the school district.

“Parents of children with disabilities and serious illness spend their lives taking care of their children and understand their aches and pains, moods and actions better than anyone else,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex. “But when they send their medically-fragile children to school they are forced to give up control over care to a nurse or medical professional, who they currently have no say in choosing or hiring. These medical professionals may not have the proper training to deal with their child’s illness, health risks and specific medical needs. We need to change the law, so that parents have a choice in who oversees their children’s health and well-being while they are at school.”

A medically-fragile student is a school-aged child who suffers from a life-threatening medical condition, such as cerebral palsy, seizure disorder or another neurological disease and therefore requires more individualized and continuous care than that provided by a school nurse.

The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk for consideration.

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