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In Tragedy’s Wake, New York Preschool Staff Get Food Allergy Training

Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a tragedy in order to generate action to prevent anaphylaxis in any child. After the death of three-year-old Elijah Silvera at a daycare center in New York City, The Administration of Children’s Services (ACS) pledged to do more training in preschools, and FARE offered to help conduct food allergy training for workers who care for young children in childcare settings. The training will be conducted both in person and online, and can serve as a model for other cities.

Elijah Silvera at his best.
Elijah Silvera at his best.

In Tragedy’s Wake, New York Preschool Staff Get Food Allergy Training

By: Nicole Smith
in Food Allergy News

Following the tragic death of Elijah Silvera, a 3-year-old who had an anaphylactic reaction at preschool, a comprehensive training program has begun in New York City in hopes that food allergy education will help to protect kids and prevent tragedies.

In November 2017, after the little boy’s death, the New York City Administration of Children’s Services (ACS) pledged to do more training in preschools and announced a new requirement that all child-care staff had to call 911 when a student has a medical emergency.

The national organization FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) offered to get involved with the training. “FARE reached out to ACS in November, following the death of Elijah, offering food allergy training for workers who care for young children in the childcare setting,” said Carlea Bauman, vice president of education and community initiatives at FARE.

This past week, hundreds of staff, administrators and teachers of the New York City EarlyLearn program were being trained on how to manage the needs of young kids with food allergies, how to avoid allergen exposure and how to recognize and respond to a food allergy reaction. The training will also be offered online to an additional 2,000 to 3,000 employees.

FARE’s national director of training and community outreach, Gina Clowes, conducts training.
FARE’s national director of training and community outreach, Gina Clowes, conducts training.

The educational material aligns with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Voluntary Guidelines for Managing Food Allergies in Schools and Early Care and Education Programs.

Elijah’s parents, Thomas Silvera and Dina Hawthorne-Silvera, say their son was given a grilled cheese sandwich at the Seventh Avenue Center for Family Services in the Harlem area of New York City, despite his dairy allergy being well-documented. He didn’t receive epinephrine right away as his mother says she wasn’t informed on what her son had eaten and she thought he was having an asthma attack. Elijah died in hospital.

Silvera and Hawthorne-Silvera have been attending food allergy community events and trying to raise awareness through social networks. While they have been in touch with ACS since the tragedy, Silvera learned of the training through FARE. He told Allergic Living that, “ACS should have called [and] worked with us on this as well as [obtain] our viewpoints.”

Silvera, who is in the medical profession as a surgical technologist, would like to see pre-kindergarten training take place on an ongoing basis, for staff to take a test on completion of training, and for a manager in the NYC EarlyLearn program to sign off on each staff member’s training completion.

FARE’s comprehensive online training module will include information about food service for ACS employees who don’t receive training in person.

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