New Guidelines Detail Specifics and Deadline for NY's Elijah's Law

"Your voice matters, your child's voice matters, and their health matters." After a preschool ignored written and verbal instructions about his food allergies and asthma, Elijah-Alavi Affiq Thomas Silvera died in 2017. When faced with the tragedy of losing his son Elijah, Thomas Silvera embarked on a mission to help ensure that no other family would have to experience a similar tragedy. Learn more about his successful efforts to provide information and training to daycare facilities in New York and his continued work with state legislatures to spread awareness and action throughout the country.

New Guidelines Detail Specifics and Deadline for NY's Elijah's Law

Thomas Silvera (Elijah's Father) with Elijah's Law sign

By Kristen Stewart
April 12, 2021

"It shouldn't take a tragedy to create change and it shouldn't take another tragedy to create another change," said Thomas Silvera, Co-founder, President, and CEO of the Elijah-Alavi Foundation, a non-profit formed to encourage diverse social and equitable food allergy and asthma resources for schools in New York state and across the country.

The tragic death of Thomas's son, Elijah-Alavi Affiq Thomas Silvera in 2017 prompted Thomas, his family, and the Foundation to do everything in their power to prevent a similar heartbreak from happening to someone else.

Elijah died after his preschool ignored written and verbal instructions about the 3-year-old's food allergies and asthma then failed to tell his mother what he had eaten, incorrectly informed her he was having an asthma attack, and didn't call 911 or administer epinephrine.

Elijah's Law

In September, 2019 New York state passed Elijah’s Law which required the New York Health Commissioner to establish guidelines for daycare providers for the prevention of and response to anaphylaxis. These policies were supposed to be distributed in 2020 but were delayed due to Covid-19.

On March 15, 2021 Elijah's Law finally underwent the next step to becoming an enforceable reality when the NY Office of Children and Family Services sent all licensed/registered child care programs the information needed to be in compliance. Some highlights include:

  • An Individual Allergy and Anaphylaxis Emergency Plan form the provider must use to work with parents/guardians and the child's health care practitioner to outline allergies, prevention strategies, and steps taken if the child is exposed or showing symptoms along with details of when this information should be reviewed
  • A required 30-minute no-cost online training video
  • The ability to receive two Auvi-Q epinephrine auto injectors and one training device at no cost after completion of the required training program thanks to a partnership with Health First (while voluntary this is strongly recommended)

Providers are encouraged to make these policy changes as soon as possible though they have six months to do so. Compliance will be monitored beginning on September 15, 2021.

Thanks to Elijah's Law children will be better protected while at child care programs in New York state but Thomas has not stopped there. He is currently in discussions with legislators in a number of states including Illinois, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Kansas, and more on similar legislation as well as working toward a federal law.

"What happened to my son shouldn't happen to another child," he said. "If we can put policies in place to protect children now and the children of the future it helps give peace of mind to parents because they know we have them and they're not voluntary guidelines but guidelines childcare programs must abide by."

Ambassador Program

In addition to legislative efforts, the Foundation encourages children from infants through 12 years of age to become Elijah's Echo Ambassadors. Ambassadors receive free quarterly boxes with educational materials, products from food allergy companies, swag, and more. "We are trying to empower young children to have a voice to educate not just in their homes but in their schools and communities," said Thomas. To sign their child up to be an Ambassador parents can visit https://www.elijahalavifoundation.org/elijah-s-echo-ambassadors.

Thomas and the Foundation are doing their best to bring about changes to prevent another tragedy but he welcomes help in amplification of all kinds whether it's at a child's school or in the community. "Your voice matters, your child's voice matters, and their health matters," he said. "Work with communities. Collect a group of parents with food allergy kids so they can form a grassroots movement of awareness and taking action. The more people involved and standing on that soapbox the louder our voices can be about sharing the message to create change."

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