One of our loss prevention representatives was recently asked about including children with disabilities in camp activities. This organization had heard about the YMCA of Metro Chicago settling a discrimination complaint after they refused to train staff on how to administer glucagon shots to a child with diabetes. This led to a conversation about accommodating children with different disabilities at the organization’s camp.
We have some tips for caring for children with diabetes, and, while somewhat challenging, this is a disability that should be accommodated in most cases. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, organizations are required to make reasonable accommodations to include children with disabilities. Most courts are going to find that what’s needed to accommodate a child with diabetes is reasonable.
But what about other children with more severe disabilities? How does an organization handle a request from a parent to serve a child with autism who needs constant monitoring? Or a child in a wheelchair who needs assistance with all of their self-care? In these situations, it’s important for organizations to develop a consistent policy and follow it. If the camp only accepts children up to a certain age, they need to follow that policy even if an older child with disabilities and the mental capacity of a younger child wants to enroll. If a child requires more attention or care than the staff can safely provide, then the organization needs to turn the child away. Remember, accommodation needs to be reasonable and if other children or the child with a disability are put in an unsafe situation, that’s not reasonable.
As hard as it can be for organizations to tell a family they cannot accept their child, it’s very important to follow the policies the organization sets. Consistency is key in preventing any discrimination claims and will make it easier to families to understand if their child can or cannot be accommodated.