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Health support planning for children and students in education and care settings

On this page

Staff, parents, guardians and health professionals work together to manage the health conditions of children and students in education and care settings including schools, preschools, kindergartens, family day care services, children’s centres and out of school hours care (OSHC) services.

This page outlines how health care needs should be managed to minimise potential risks to children and students in education or care settings. It covers:

  • when health care plans and agreements are needed and how they’re developed
  • how to be inclusive when developing health care agreements and plans
  • confidentiality requirements.

Providing health support

Staff cannot support children or students who are ill or recovering from an illness. They must rest and recuperate at home.

Staff can support children and students with physical health, personal care and mental health needs, where there are agreed and planned support strategies as outlined on this page.

Planning health support

Education and care services must identify, plan and manage health support by:

  • communicating and consulting with children and students and their parents and carers
  • implementing risk minimisation strategies outlined on this page
  • developing emergency management procedures
  • undertaking post-incident and near-miss management.

Identifying support needs 

On enrolment, education and care services should ask if a child or student has any physical, mental or personal health care needs. Parents or guardians can provide education and care with a:

A health support need may also be identified when:

  • the parent or guardian says there is a support need but there is no health care plan
  • a medical incident has occurred in the education and care service
  • there is a change in health or support needs
  • planning for excursions and camps
  • there is increasing non-attendance.

Developing and implementing health support

The education and care service leader must meet with the child or student, their parent or guardian, and relevant staff to develop health support and risk minimisation strategies as soon as a need is identified.

Where there’s a delay between identifying the health need and developing a plan, the education and care service must support the child or student to attend. Health needs can be managed with standard first aid, for example calling an ambulance. This must be communicated to the child or student and their parent or guardian.

Health support agreements and safety and risk management plans

The health support agreement (DOC 131KB) and safety and risk management plan (DOC 143KB) should be developed together by the child or student (where possible), parent or guardian and staff.

  • In preschool, kindergarten, family day care and OSHC services a health support agreement and safety and risk management plan must be completed for all children and students with health support needs.
  • In schools, it’s recommended that a health support agreement and safety and risk management plan is completed for children and students with health support needs.

An offsite safety and risk management plan (DOC 134KB) should be developed for any activities that take place outside of the education or care setting including swimming, excursions, camps, outings, walks or transition activities.

Use the guide to planning health support (DOC 89KB) when completing these agreements and plans.

Strategies documented in the agreement and plan must be agreed on by everyone involved. 

Documenting care plans and agreements

Original copies of care plans and agreements can be photocopied or scanned. Care plans should be colour copied.

Complete the document control for care plans and support agreements template (DOC 155KB) to record the number and location of all copies of the care plans and agreements. Replace forms in all locations when they are reviewed and updated.

Old versions of care plans and agreements must be removed to make sure only the current plan is being used. 

Health support folders

Children and students with complex or multiple health conditions may have a health support folder.

The folder contains copies of all health care plans, management plans, first aid, medication agreements and other health support information.

The folder remains with the child or student at all times and can be used by education and care, respite and out of school hours care staff.

Use the health support plan folder cover (DOC 193KB) and health support plan folder guide (DOC 95KB) when making a folder.

Culture, diversity and disability 

We must support the development of inclusive and culturally respectful health support planning in education and care services. Political, cultural, spiritual, emotional, environmental, structural, economic and biological factors impacting the wellbeing of all children and students must be considered when developing health care plans and agreements.  

Aboriginal cultural context statement

Aboriginal people experience the poorest health and education outcomes when compared to non-Aboriginal Australians. The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey 2014 to 2015 shows that poor education and literacy are linked to poor health.

The cumulative effects of forced removal of Aboriginal children, poverty, exposure to violence, historical and transgenerational trauma, the ongoing effects of past and present systemic racism, culturally unsafe and discriminatory services are all major contributors to the disparities in Aboriginal education outcomes.

To achieve the best Aboriginal education outcomes, education and care services must provide a culturally safe environment allowing Aboriginal children and families to draw strength in their identity, community and culture.

Aboriginal children are born into strong kinship structures where roles and responsibilities are integral and woven into the social fabric of Aboriginal societies. The primary caregiver for Aboriginal children is not always the parent or guardian. Education and care staff should consider engaging members of the extended family in the absence of parent or guardians where appropriate.

Education and care staff can secure positive long term education and wellbeing outcomes for our Aboriginal children and young people by making well informed decisions in consultation with families, based on cultural considerations.

Health support agreements must be developed in partnership with parents or guardians. The opportunity to identify cultural needs is very important. Education and care staff should be aware that parents or guardians may request the input of Aboriginal community education officers (ACEOs) or Aboriginal health workers (AHW) in the development of their child’s health support agreement. The use of an Aboriginal languages interpreter or translator (PDF 191KB) (staff login required) should also be considered.

The term ‘Aboriginal’ is used to refer to people who identify as Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islanders, or both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. This is done because the people indigenous to South Australia are Aboriginal and we respect that many Aboriginal people prefer the term ‘Aboriginal’. We also acknowledge and respect that many Aboriginal South Australians prefer to be known by their specific language group(s).

Disability context statement

Children and young people with disability generally have more health needs than those without disability.

Disability includes the loss of bodily function, damage to bodily function, disease or illness, and disorders of thought processes, emotions, judgement or behaviour.

The Disability Standards for Education support the child or student’s right to apply for enrolment in their local school and to provide adjustments to allow for changing needs over time.

Some common conditions affecting children and young people with disability are gait abnormalities, flexibility, strength, and balance problems, eye disease, untreated tooth decay, blocked ear canals, and hearing issues.

Children and young people with disability may not present with typical signs or symptoms when they are unwell. They may have differences in the way they express pain and distress, respond to medications and behave when feeling sick.

There are five domains as predictors of health and wellbeing:

  • physical health
  • social competence
  • emotional maturity
  • language and cognitive skills
  • communication.

Having a disability increases the chance of being vulnerable in more than one domain.

The opportunity to understand health conditions for students with disability and the way they impact on learning is one of the ways we can value people with disabilities and work towards their wellbeing and longevity.

Cultural diversity

Health support agreement must be completed with parents or guardians. Education and care staff must make sure they understand the content and underlying values in the Australian context. Families must be given the opportunity to discuss their cultural perspective and needs.

The English as an additional language or dialect program (staff login required) supports children and students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and provides access to interpreter services and community liaison officers (CLOs).

The Preschool Bilingual Program may assist preschools to access interpreter services to support children and their families from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Family members and friends should not be used as interpreters.


Reviewing health support needs

Health care plans have a review date but this is not an expiry date. If a review date has passed, the care plan can still be used until an updated plan is developed. 

At a minimum, the plan should be reviewed and updated when:

  • symptoms increase
  • there’s been a medical emergency related to that health condition
  • day to day needs change.

Staff must consult and review the health support agreement and safety and risk management plan:

  • when the health care plan has been reviewed and updated
  • as soon as possible after a medical emergency incident at the education and care service
  • before the child or student goes on camps or excursions or onsite special events (for example class parties, cultural days, fetes, sports or swimming events, incursions) where the safety and risk management plan has not addressed risk minimisation strategies for these activities
  • when there’s a new medical diagnosis.

Medication agreements

If a child or student is prescribed medication that needs to be administered while they’re in an education or care service setting, a medication agreement (DOC 132KB) or multiple medication agreement (DOC 142KB) must be completed by the parent or caregiver.

Medication agreements cannot be used for: 

  • controlled drugs
  • oxygen
  • insulin
  • regular administration of pain relief.

See medication management for instruction on how to safely manage medication in education and care services.

Environmental exposure

If the child or student needs modified support to manage exposure to environmental factors that impact their health condition, an environmental exposure plan (DOC 142KB) should be completed by the parent or guardian.

Complex or invasive health needs

Education and care staff are not expected to provide complex or invasive health support. 

See complex or invasive health support to find out how children and students can be supported. 

First aid

Education and care staff must provide first aid measures following any care plan or support agreement and contacting emergency services if required. 

A health professional will complete an individual first aid plan (DOC 134KB) where the response isn’t standard first aid for a child or student’s health condition.

For information on standard first aid response for a variety of health conditions see specific health conditions.

Confidentiality and consent

Staff providing physical, personal or emotional support to children and students must make sure any conversations about health needs are purposeful and related to the care, wellbeing, dignity and privacy of the child and their family. 

Health and personal care information is confidential and must only be provided to emergency services or staff that are supporting the child or student, and only if required.

Any information sharing must meet the information sharing guidelines (PDF 14MB)

Disability advice and research

Phone: 8226 0515
Email: education.health [at] sa.gov.au