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Rep. Carroll pushes “Elijah’s Law” through House committee to help train teachers on food allergy safety

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Does staff at your child’s school or daycare know what to do if your student has an allergic reaction? A new proposal in Springfield could make sure employees know how to help a child in anaphylactic shock.

Rep. Johnathan Carroll (D-Northbrook) wants Illinois to remain a model for other states when responding to food allergies. Advocates say 5.6 million children across the country suffer from anaphylactic episodes. House Bill 102 requires state public health officials to establish anaphylactic policies with the State Board of Education and DCFS. Carroll feels employees at schools and daycare facilities should know how to properly recognize and respond to a medical emergency.

He filed the bill after hearing that a New York father lost his three-year-old son to anaphylactic shock during the first week of Preschool. Thomas Silvera explained staff at his son’s daycare served a grilled cheese despite knowing of his severe allergy to dairy. Silvera explained his life changed forever the moment Elijah died in 2017.

“What my son Elijah has taught us is that challenges are simply an opportunity to use our superpowers and that limitations are invitations to change the world as we know it,” Silvera said.

Thomas and Dina Silvera created a foundation in Elijah’s name to help educators in New York City learn about food allergies. They later helped New York lawmakers pass “Elijah’s Law,” requiring educators to recognize symptoms and quickly administer an EpiPen.

“Making this reality”

ISBE officials said the board is more than willing to take on the primary responsibility of implementing this policy. They explained the School Health Advisory Committee could help develop the guidance for staff. However, DCFS officials would be responsible for implementing the policy in daycares.

“Thank you Mr. Silvera for your very touching testimony,” said Committee Chair Michelle Mussman (D-Schaumburg). “Certainly, our hearts all go out to you. And we look forward to being part of making this reality in our state.”

The proposal passed out of committee unanimously on a voice vote. It now heads to the House floor for second reading.

“As a parent of a child with food allergies, I know all too well the fear of what could happen when my child is out of my sight,” Carroll said. “Anyone who is trusted to care for children should be properly trained in how to prevent and manage allergic reactions, so they don’t result in devastating outcomes, or better yet, don’t occur in the first place.”

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Mike Miletich

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