Every child with special healthcare needs in school should have an Individualized Health Care Plan (IHCP). An IHCP helps to make sure your child receives the health services he or she needs during the school day.

There is no law that says your child has a right to an IHCP. If your child has a specific health problem, you should ask for an IHCP.

People who may help create your child’s IHCP include:

  • You
  • Your child (when appropriate)
  • The school nurse
  • Other members of the school staff
  • Healthcare providers
  • Staff from community support services (when needed)
  • The MASSTART vendor in your area (when appropriate)

Contact your child’s school nurse first. Schedule a meeting with the nurse to develop the plan. It is very helpful to involve your child’s primary care provider (PCP). He or she can give the school nurse all the necessary medical information and specific doctor’s orders for your child. If your child is eligible for special education, ask your child’s school nurse to work together with the Special Education Administrator to make sure that services are coordinated.

Your child’s IHCP should include:

  • The health services your child should receive at school
  • When, where, and how the health services will be provided
  • Who will provide the health services
  • Information about your child’s transportation needs, including any special needs when taking field trips
  • An Emergency Response Plan that lists possible emergencies and what to do. This plan should be discussed with all school staff and the local Emergency Medical Services (EMS) providers.
  • A copy of the Emergency Information Form for Children with Special Health Needs

The IHCP should be reviewed and updated whenever your child’s medical condition changes. It is very important that you notify the school nurse immediately when changes happen. The IHCP should be kept in your child's school record. If your child receives special education, ask to have the IHCP attached to your child's Individualized Education Plan (IEP). That way the people who provide healthcare services and the people who provide education services can coordinate care for your child. We recommend having your child’s school staff conduct an emergency drill to make sure that the plan works.

This information is provided in part by the Division of Perinatal, Early Childhood, and Special Health Needs within the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and mass.gov.