Calif. School-Based Care Not Keeping Up With Demand, Report Finds
An increasing number of California students have chronic and serious health conditions, but the care system at schools in the state lacks efficiency and effectiveness, according to a report released last week by researchers at California State University-Sacramento's School of Nursing, EdSource reports.
For the report, researchers analyzed:
- California education data from the 2011-2012 school year;
- Interviews; and
- A survey of California School Nurses Association members.
The report found that more children with chronic illnesses now are able to attend school because of:
- Medical and technological advances; and
- Changing state laws.
However, researchers found that school nurses often are burdened by heavy caseloads because of decreased funding while their responsibilities are increasing. For instance, the report noted that some school nurses are responsible for:
- Inserting urinary catheters;
- Monitoring ventilators;
- Suctioning breathing tubes; and
- Testing blood sugar levels.
Meanwhile, 57% of public school districts in California do not have any certified nurse personnel, according to the report (Adams, EdSource, 3/29).
In a blog post, the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health noted that heavy caseloads can result in unlicensed faculty members providing "complex medical care in the absence of school nurses." The group added, "While many staffers are trained by nurses, there is little statewide regulation or monitoring of their training" (Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health blog post, 3/28).
In order to ensure that students with chronic health problems receive adequate care, the report recommended:
- Creating standardized data collection and reporting systems to identify, support and monitor such students; and
- Mandatory training for all faculty members who deliver health services in schools, including first aid and CPR (EdSource, 3/29).