March 27th, 2018
The MLO Minute: Department of Justice Reaches Settlement on ADA Violations with one of the Largest Childcare Providers in the U.S.
By Michael Connolly, Esq.
The Learning Care Group, Inc. (“LCG”), one of the largest child care providers in North America which operates under several different “brands” including Childtime Learning Centers, Tutor Time Child Care/Learning Centers, The Children’s Courtyard, Montessori Unlimited, La Petite Academy, Everbrook Academy, and Creative Kids, recently entered into an agreement with the United States Justice Department (“USDOJ”). The Agreement resolves complaints filed by several families of children with Diabetes under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).
More specifically, the families alleged, and the USDOJ determined, that LCG routinely denied assistance with medication management to children with Type I Diabetes who required insulin administration through an injectable pen or syringe based on a corporate-wide policy requiring such denials. In reaching an agreement with the USDOJ, LCG agreed to pay each family aggrieved by LCG’s policy $10,000.00 in compensatory damages and to provide reasonable accommodations under the ADA to children with Type I Disabilities – among other disabilities – including where reasonable, assistance with the administration of insulin. The agreement also placed a variety of other obligations on LCG including, for example, conducting individualized assessment of a child’s needs stemming from his or her disability in response to receiving a request for a reasonable modification from the family, providing training and assistance to staff on compliance with the ADA, the development of nondiscrimination polices.
Of particular note, LCG agreed that where a parent and a child’s physician or other qualified health care professional deem it appropriate for a child to be assisted in diabetes care by a layperson, that training child care staff members to assist with routine diabetes care, including the administration of insulin by injectable pen, syringe, or pump, is generally a reasonable modification under the ADA. Parents often face situations in school where a nurse is not available in a certain building or during a field trip or other extracurricular activities, and a school district refuses to train lay staff (e.g., a teacher or aide) to assist asserting that only a nurse can administer medication. While the agreement between USDOJ and LCG is not binding on nonparties to the agreement, it certainly provides insight into the USDOJ’s prospective on the issue and may nevertheless prove helpful to other families facing similar situations with their childcare provider or local school district.