First State School gives children and adolescents who would otherwise be homebound with serious illnesses the chance to attend school with their peers while they get the medical treatment they need. Located at Wilmington Hospital, First State School offers kindergarten through high-school education to children with diabetes, sickle-cell anemia, severe asthma, cancer and other illnesses that preclude attendance at regular school.
The program is only one of three in operation nationwide. It is a collaboration between Christiana Care and the Delaware Department of Education through the Red Clay School District. Teachers are state-certified employees of Red Clay School District, and they provide instruction in accordance with the student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and the Delaware State Content Standards. The First State School staff, including physicians, nurses, educators and psychologists are available throughout the school day to oversee each student’s daily needs in collaboration with their family and primary care physicians and subspecialty consultants.
The first school of its kind in the United States, First State School serves as a quality model for the care of chronically ill children and adolescents for the American College of Physician Executives. Started for adolescents in 1985 and expanded to serve elementary students in 1991, First State School was the brainchild of Janet Kramer, M.D., F.S.A.M., a medical internist and director of Christiana Care’s Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine Services until her retirement in 1999. Dr. Kramer’s vision was to help chronically ill children get the medical treatment they needed without missing out on the important parts of childhood—the chance to learn and grow with others.