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Mother says son's diabetes creates daycare dilemma

Posted at 1:20 PM, Feb 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-19 03:05:39-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Finding affordable daycare in Las Vegas is a difficult task for any parent, but a local mother says things got even harder when businesses learned her son has Type 1 diabetes.

"He was two years old. It was shocking," Lauren McPhee said of her son's diagnosis. "It was devastating for sure. It was my worst nightmare."

McPhee a person with Type 1 diabetes herself said she adjusted to giving Ryatt his insulin and monitoring his blood sugar.

They've become simple tasks for the single mom and Ryatt barely notices the shots and continues about his daily routine.

When it came time for McPhee to return to work, she ran into the most significant hurdle with his condition.

"I would say at first ten daycares said they just weren't willing to accommodate," McPhee said. "Most of them just said they didn't have a nurse on staff which tells me they just aren't familiar with it."

Those who are familiar with the challenges diabetics face say that's not uncommon.

"A lot of places are more scared of the fact that a child has Type 1 diabetes and what that responsibility takes on," Dakota Ostrenger with the Nevada Diabetes Association said.

The good news is the Americans with Disabilities Act provides protections.

"A child cannot be turned away simply because they have Type 1 diabetes," Ostrenger said.

When McPhee asked places that turned her away to put it in writing, some said they'd reconsider taking Ryatt.

"Others wouldn't email me back. They wouldn't put it in writing," McPhee said.

An attorney tells 13 Investigates, ADA laws do not require businesses to ramp up services to a level they usually wouldn't provide which means smaller daycares with minimal staffing could argue accepting a diabetic child would create a safety issue for that child.

The attorney says parents should ask daycares what accommodations they can provide and why they don't think they can care for the diabetic child.

But for McPhee, those steps were excruciating.

"Taking care of a three-year-old is difficult as it is, on top of that diabetes and my other responsibilities, and trying to keep my bills paid and trying to find childcare. I thought I wasn't going to see a horizon," McPhee said.

She pressed the issue with some daycares and thought there might be hope.

"I had a facility that was willing and then saw his blood sugar go low on a tour where I had to give him some cookies, and then they had called me back and said they weren't willing to do it," McPhee said. "Then I mentioned a previous lawsuit about discrimination and you know she called back within an hour saying they would be willing to again."

McPhee said she didn't feel safe leaving her son at a place where she had to use threats to get him in.

Finally, after dozens of calls, McPhee found a daycare that would take Ryatt, but it came at a hefty price.

"It is $1100 a month, and that is more than my rent," McPhee said. "It is far out of my reach, but it is something I have to scramble and save pennies for because otherwise, I can't go to work. I don't have another option. I am his sole provider."

It's a place where Ryatt is well-cared for and happy, and McPhee says the staff got training to make sure he's safe.

"They were all trained by Ryatt's endocrinologist. She went on her own time to teach them," McPhee said.

This situation can be an issue for any child with a disability or medical need.

Experts say one of the best things parents can do Is learn their rights and don't take no for an answer without asking why.

What is Raising The Bar?

Together with parents, educators, business and community leaders, 13 Action News will lead the discussion on improving education in Southern Nevada. We will connect families with solutions that empower our community to build a foundation for a successful future. If you have a story idea, email us at raisingthebar@ktnv.com.