Which schools in the country are most progressive when it comes to dealing with asthma and food allergies? I spoke with Charlotte Collins, Senior VP of Policy and Programs for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America to find out.
Lisa LaGrou of OaklandCountyMoms.com: Can you tell us more about the “State Honor Roll” report and what a state needs to do in order to get on the Honor Roll?
Charlotte Collins, Senior VP of Policy and Programs for AAFA: Eight million children in this country have asthma and three million have food allergies so schools really have to be concerned about what they can do to protect these students every day. We took a look at what all states are doing policy-wise… what kinds of laws do they have in place that are protective of kids in school? And with support from MYLAN specialty, we have measured those state standards against our standards of what’s most protective and we publish that each year in our state honor roll report. And, this year we are reporting that there are nine states who really exceed our mark in meeting our standards. And, those nine states include two brand new ones – West Virginia and Mississippi. So, our state honor roll is here both to honor those states, but also to provide a template for the other states to do better.
Lisa LaGrou of OaklandCountyMoms.com: How well does Michigan compare with others when it comes to the schools protecting those with food allergies and is it on the Honor Roll?
Charlotte Collins, Senior VP of Policy and Programs for AAFA: Michigan is not on the honor roll, but Michigan is close enough and has done some really forward-thinking policy-making in the last couple of years to help out its schools. Michigan achieved 14 of our core standards and we require 18 in order to meet our cut to be among the top best of the best.
Lisa LaGrou of OaklandCountyMoms.com: If I understand correctly, currently the epi pens are held at the office for nurses to have access. Has there been any progress in Michigan for having epi pens in the classrooms and educating teaching staff for use?
Charlotte Collins, Senior VP of Policy and Programs for AAFA: One thing that Michigan has done in the last couple of years is that it passed a law that allows the schools in the state to keep epinephren auto injectors at each school, and that’s very important because if a child is going through a severe allergic reaction, they need to have that medication administered to them very quickly or the risk could be serious injury or even death.
Lisa LaGrou of OaklandCountyMoms.com: What policies would the AAFA like to see in schools to protect kids with food allergies and how will they help?
Charlotte Collins, Senior VP of Policy and Programs for AAFA: Well, in addition to the one I just mentioned about keeping that life-saving medication to protect against death and injury from severe allergies, we’d also like to see training for school personnel so they recognize the signs and symptoms of asthma and allergies and they know what to do in an emergency. And, we’d also like to see more school nurses present. We recommend a ratio of one school nurse per every 750 students as a minimum. But, ideally what we would like to see, and what we think should be a parental expectation is… “Is there a nurse there while my child is at school?”
Lisa LaGrou of OaklandCountyMoms.com: Where can we find more information?
Charlotte Collins, Senior VP of Policy and Programs for AAFA: For more information, you can go to StateHonorRoll.org for information about a profile of each state and information to help you as you try to get your schools to step up.