With the signature of Governor J.B. Pritzker, Illinois on August 20 became the second state to pass an Elijah’s Law Act to mandate anaphylaxis protocols and training in daycares and schools.
“It’s amazing. We’re so excited and emotional because this is a big deal for, not just for my family, but for the food allergy community and children to put this guidance and protection in place,” said Thomas Silvera, president and CEO of the Elijah-Alavi Foundation.
Following the anaphylaxis death of their younger son Elijah in November 2017, Silvera and his wife Dina Hawthorne-Silvera founded the Elijah-Alavi Foundation. Its mission is to ensure all staff in charge of daycare and school-age children know the symptoms of anaphylaxis and how to treat it.
Elijah suffered a fatal anaphylactic reaction at his New York City preschool after a staff member gave him a grilled cheese sandwich to eat. This occurred despite the daycare knowing of the child’s severe dairy allergy. New York in September 2019 became the first state to pass an Elijah’s Law.
Illinois Gets It Done
Now Illinois has become the second state with an Elijah’s Law, which passed the Illinois House and Senate earlier in 2021.
With the governor’s signature, this legislation, officially called the Child Anaphylactic Policy Act (HB102), now requires the Illinois health department, in consultation with the board of education, to establish anaphylaxis policies and procedures for school districts and daycare settings.
Representative Jonathan Carroll, the bill’s sponsor and the father of a child with food allergies, says the bill adds daycare centers to existing school food allergy policies currently required in Illinois, and tightens anaphylaxis training across school levels.
The Silveras were able to virtually attend the signing, held in public with Pritzker along with Carroll and his family.
Carroll writes of the Silveras, “I was greatly moved by their story and determination for change and made a promise that Illinois would be the second state to pass Elijah’s law. Today I honored that promise.”
Thomas Silvera told Allergic Living that in previous versions of anaphylaxis policies in Illinois and New York, “daycares and childcares had been overlooked.” In his research, he finds this is common across states, and the foundation is working with local advocates to expand Elijah’s Law into more states.
In Illinois, “with the bill passed, we hope to see the Department of Health, the Department of Children and Family Services and the Board of Education – everybody – jumping on board to make sure this is set in stone and these centers adopt the policies,” said Silvera.
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