Sharp response: Centre says staff can deliver girl's insulin

SHARP POLICY: Eva Todd, 3, of Goonellabah, is free to return to the Goodstart Early Learning Centre after a 'communication breakdown' about the delivery of her insulin supply.
SHARP POLICY: Eva Todd, 3, of Goonellabah, is free to return to the Goodstart Early Learning Centre after a 'communication breakdown' about the delivery of her insulin supply. Marc Stapelberg

UPDATE, 5pm: GOODSTART Early Learning has rejected claims it does not cater for children with diabetes, despite one local mother's experience which they blame on a "communication breakdown". 

Mother of three-year-old Eva Todd, Ashley Robson, withdrew her diabetic child because she was told staff couldn't give her insulin shots

Goodstart NSW state manager Nicole Jones said Goodstart was an "inclusive organisation" that did not exclude children with diabetes.

"The child remains enrolled at our Goodstart Goonellabah centre," Ms Jones said. "The child was not excluded and was never requested to leave the centre."

"In this particular case, the parent's concern seems to have resulted from a communication breakdown regarding the administration of the child's insulin," she went on.

"Goodstart confirms staff of the centre are able to administer the insulin requirements and the child's medical requirements will continue to be managed at our Goodstart centre.

"Importantly, Goodstart has been in contact with the child's mother to reassure her that the child will continue to be included and supported by the centre and organisation."

The child's mother, Ms Robson, who throughout her experience has praised the centre's staff, nevertheless said she had not been informed of the policy outlined in Ms Jones' statement.

 "At this stage all the information I have received is that a parent has to administer the insulin," she said.

"And I haven't received a single phone call from Goodstart since publication of the first article (on Friday morning)."

"Yes, she is going on Monday, but the arrangement is for a parent to administer the insulin.

"No one has contacted me... to say 'yes we can'."


UPDATE, 10.30am: IN RESPONSE to this morning's story, Goodstart Early Learning has issued a statement that three-year-old Eva Todd remained enrolled at the Goonellabah centre and was never sent home.

"The child remains enrolled at our centre and at no stage has been asked to leave our services," the statement said.

"At Goodstart we're committed to ensuring each child's health and safety needs are met irrespective of their medical needs."

"Staff of the centre are able to administer the insulin requirements via the child's Novorapid pen."

But Eva's mum Ashlee Robson told The Northern Star that she was told that no staff were able to administer the insulin shots and instead a parent would have to come in to do it themselves.

"Most parents who put their child in day care are working … and to expect the parent to leave work three times, sometimes four or five times a day - that's not really the level of care they should be providing," Ms Robson said.

"They can have her in the centre, but they can't give her the needle. That's what the problem is."

"If that's not the case, I'm being told something separate."

However, Ms Robson said she was still committed to Eva attending the centre: "We're working closely with the management staff to get it resolved … the staff have been really good."

The statement from Goodstart went on to state the following, which contradicts Eva's experience at the centre:

"The child's medical requirements are able to be managed under our Administration of Medication to Children procedure which ensures the safe handling, storage, dispensing, and administration of medication provided for children."

"Goodstart has a Sharps Collection and Disposal procedure that minimises risk of injury or transmission for infectious diseases through the safe handling and disposal of sharps."


INITIAL: A Northern Rivers mum spent months arranging proper child care of her recently diagnosed diabetic three-year-old daughter, only for her to be sent home on her first day due to a 'no sharps' policy.

Three year old Eva Todd was diagnosed with Type I diabetes in September last year after tests revealed her glucose levels were almost ten times normal.

"She had what they call diabetic ketoacidosis, when the body basically start to breakdown and poison itself because the sugars aren't being absorbed properly," Eva's mother Ashlee Robson explained.

"I was studying at the time and she didn't need care, but I've returned to work this year and for the last three to four months I have been organising day care at the Goodstart Early Learning Centre (in Goonellabah).

"It's been a very long process, making sure everything's in place, there's a lot of forms that needed to be filled out.

"They even had diabetes training Tuesday night, and her first day was Wednesday, and then halfway through the day they found out they had a no sharps policy so I had to leave work to pick her up.

Ms Robson said she was shocked after communicating so closely with the centre for several months that they hadn't informed her of the policy.

But she said she didn't want to blame Goodstart or their staff, but rather the impact of their policy.

"The main issue for me is that their policies are excluding a child with a disability," she said.

"Their whole philosophy is child inclusion… and yet they'll completely refuse care for a diabetic. It's just (bad) institutional policy."

"I want her to go there, she's been there since she was a baby. I don't think she should have to change centres because adults are incompetent, it's not fair on the child."

Goodstart Early Learning, which runs more than 600 centres across Australia, claimed Eva's medical needs were "able to be managed" at the centre and insulin shots delivered by staff, but did not answer why Ms Robson was told the opposite.

Ms Robson said Bumblebee's in Goonellabah had also refused to take diabetic children, despite having the qualifications to do so.

The Northern Star made additional inquiries to two other child care centres in Lismore, as well as the Northern Rivers Family Day Care network asking if the could accept children with diabetes.

Both Care-Ring Children's Centre in Goonellabah and Family Day Care's network of home-based carers had the capability, and had received proper training and had sharps disposal containers.

Topics:  childcare diabetes editors picks

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