FAAMA, The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Management Act was passed into law in the United States after being signed by President Obama on Tuesday, January 4, 2011. So what does this Act mean to you as a food allergic parent?
Here is the official summary of the ACT which was introduced in February 2009:
Requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop and make available to local educational agencies, schools, early childhood education programs, and other interested entities voluntary guidelines to develop plans for individuals to manage the risk of food allergy and anaphylaxis in schools and early childhood education programs. Directs that such guidelines address:
(1) parental obligation to provide the documentation of their child’s allergies;
(2) the creation of an individual food allergy management plan for each such child;
(3) communication between schools or programs and emergency medical services;
(4) reduction of exposure to anaphylactic causative agents;
(5) food allergy management training; and
(6) administration of epinephrine.
Allows the Secretary to award matching grants to assist local educational agencies in implementing such food allergy and anaphylaxis management guidelines.
What the law will actually do in its practical application remains to be seen. At the very least, this law should give parents a legal means to fall back on in EVERY state should their school/school district administration not accomodate for their child’s anaphylaxis. Further, it allows for the legal means to give epinephrine, which seems to have been a cause for confusion or inaction in schools.
While there are many teachers and administration who have been wholly supportive of anaphylaxis plans, many parents report to me that they have been treated as second-class citizens in the school system and even have had it suggested that they home school their child. While many allergic parents do pursue this option, it should be by choice, not fear or intimidation. As a former teacher, I can’t imagine that any teacher or school would be apathetic about anaphylaxis but it has been a very real issue for many around the world.
It will take some time for the voluntary guidelines and educational materials to be developed and funding to be provided for training. But in the meantime, a very important first step has been taken for those with anaphylaxis in a school setting.