New York State Assembly Passes New Food Allergy Requirements for Daycare Centers

Scrubs Magazine is a proud supporter of Elijah’s Law and holds the Silvera family close to our hearts. In some great news, what’s known as Elijah’s Law is on its way to becoming law in the state of New York. The State Assembly has just passed new food allergy education, prevention, and response guidelines for early education, daycare, and other child-care centers. This comes as a major win for advocates of the child food allergy community. The assembly also passed new food allergy requirements for emergency first-responders to reduce the number of children lost to food allergy emergencies.

What Is Elijah’s Law?

Elijah’s Law requires all early education, daycare and child-care centers to establish education, prevention and response protocols for childhood food allergies, extending the requirements already in place in the K-12 school system. Caregivers and educators will participate in training courses on preventing food allergy emergencies and how to respond when incidents occur. Child care centers across the state will develop emergency communication and treatment plans, designate which foods are safe and unsafe, and establish risk-reduction strategies.

The bill calls for the following:

  • Every daycare center must be stocked with epinephrine auto-injectors.
  • Every adult daycare center employee or volunteer must know the signs of anaphylaxis and be able to treat children experiencing it.

The law gets its name from an initiative called “Elijah’s Echo,” which was created after Thomas Silvera and Dina Hawthorne-Silvera lost their 3-year-old son Elijah-Alavi to anaphylaxis. The child was under the care of a New York City daycare center when one of the staff members fed him a grilled cheese. Elijah had a severe dairy allergy and asthma. The center then failed to administer epinephrine or call 911. Elijah died shortly after. His parents have been advocating for stronger childhood food allergy safety requirements for daycare centers ever since.

The bill remained stalled in the State Assembly with some starting to doubt its passage, but a state-wide letter-writing campaign from concerned parents and residents gave the bill a new life. Gov. Cuomo is expected to sign the bill into law soon.

New Requirements for Emergency First Responders

The New York State Assembly passed a second piece of legislation concerning childhood food allergies. The legislation known as Gio’s Law requires all state police and emergency response teams to establish their own response protocols for treating children with food allergies. All personnel will be trained on how to administer epinephrine auto-injectors. All units must carry these auto-injectors in their vehicles.

The bill was championed by Georgina Cornago Cipriano, who lost her son Giovanni. Giovanni had a peanut allergy and severe complications, dying of anaphylaxis. After Gio’s Law passed the State Assembly, Cipriano commented, “Giovanni’s name will forever be known, never forgotten now, and this bill will continue to save lives because of him, just as Elijah will continue saving lives through their newly passed legislation. It’s unfortunate that these laws have had to be written in the blood of our children’s loss. We don’t want to have to write these like this anymore.”

Helping Children with Food Allergies

Establishing childhood food allergy education, prevention, and response protocols can help reduce the number of children who lose their lives to a food allergy emergency. Parents of children with food allergies can drop off their children at daycare without worrying about whether the staff can properly care for their children.

The childhood food allergy community has been advocating for this kind of legislation for years. The K-12 school system has had food allergy requirements in place for some time, but daycare centers always remained the exception. Without federal food allergy safety requirements in place, it was up to the state to pass its own legislation. Kenneth Mendez, CEO and president of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, commented on the passage of the bill, “One preventable death of a child is one too many.”

In terms of the national effects of the law, Thomas Silvera commented, “Governor Cuomo once said, ‘When New York does something, the rest of the country pays attention.’ He’s right.”

Hopefully more states will follow New York and pass their own childhood food allergy safety requirements so every child can receive the care they need in the daycare system.

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