Amendment of School Based Programs for Children Ages 3-5 (Article 43 of the NYC Health Code)

Proposed Rules: Closed to Comments (View Public Comments Received:14)

Comment By: 
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Download Copy of Proposed Rule (.pdf): 

Statement of Basis and Purpose

Article 43 of the New York City Health Code governs school-based programs for children aged three through five. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene proposes to add requirements for tooth brushing, for maintaining epinephrine auto-injectors on site and for certain teacher training. The basis for the proposed changes is set forth below.


Tooth Brushing

The Department is proposing to mandate that school-based programs for children aged three through five assist children with brushing their teeth at least once each day. Tooth decay (caries) is the most common chronic childhood disease. Consequences of early childhood caries include a higher risk of developing additional caries in both primary and permanent teeth,[1] difficulty eating and speaking,[2] increased hospitalizations and emergency room visits[3] and greater risk for delayed physical growth and development.[4] National data show that nearly one in four preschool-age children has had caries.[5] The Department’s 2014 Child Dental Health Survey (CDHS) found that at least 15 percent[6] of children in New York City child care programs had experienced caries and 45 percent of children consumed between-meal sugary snacks or sugary drinks four or more times a day, a major risk factor for caries. Caries prevalence increases as children get older, with 42 percent of third grade children having experienced caries.[7]


Caries is a preventable disease. Relatively simple measures such as tooth brushing can significantly reduce risk. The American Dental Association recommends that tooth brushing twice per day begin at the eruption of a child’s first tooth. Despite the established benefits of tooth brushing, the oral hygiene practices of young children in New York City remain inadequate.  According to the CDHS[8], among those surveyed, 40 percent of children aged 0 to 6 brushed their teeth only once a day or less frequently, and 45 percent of children aged 0 to 2 did not use fluoride toothpaste. 

Requiring tooth brushing for school-based programs will promote tooth brushing and help prevent caries. CDHS findings indicate that children with at least one tooth who are enrolled in Early Learn centers—which are required under the federal Head Start program to have a daily tooth brushing routine—are two and a half times as likely to brush their teeth the recommended two or more times per day than children in other programs. Including tooth brushing requirements in Article 43 will set children up for a lifetime of good oral hygiene practices.

Epinephrine Auto-Injectors

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that four to six percent of children nationally have a food allergy; such food allergies include ones that are life-threatening. Rapid administration of an epinephrine auto-injector following a life-threatening allergen exposure is critical to preventing significant negative outcomes, including death. Having epinephrine auto-injectors on the premises at all times can save the lives of children with life-threatening food allergies who do not bring an epinephrine auto-injector with them to the school-based program, and of children who have life-threatening food allergies identified for the first time while the child is there.

In 2016, the New York State Public Health Law was amended[9] to allow certain entities, including child care providers, to obtain non-patient specific epinephrine auto-injectors and to administer them in an emergency. This new State law creates the opportunity for such programs to have this critical, lifesaving medication available. Accordingly, the Department is proposing to add a mandate that school-based programs maintain on site at least two unexpired epinephrine auto-injectors in each dosage appropriate for children who may be in the program, stored so they are easily accessible to staff and inaccessible to children. Programs would be required to have at least one staff person on site, whenever children are present, trained to recognize signs and symptoms of anaphylactic shock and to administer epinephrine as appropriate. The proposal also requires the program to monitor the auto-injectors’ expiration dates and call 911 after any administration, as required by the medication directions. Programs would be mandated to obtain parental consent at the time the child is enrolled in the program. All staff would be required to be trained in preventing and responding to emergencies related to food allergies.

Training requirements

The Department is proposing to expand teacher training requirements to enhance child safety, and assure alignment with the health and safety training requirements in the federal Child Care Development Block Grant Act (CCDBG) Act of 2014, which apply to any program enrolling a child whose enrollment is paid for by federal child care subsidies.

The Department’s authority to promulgate these proposed amendments is found in Sections, 556, 558, and 1043 of the New York City Charter (the “Charter”). Sections 558(b) and (c) of the Charter empower the Board to amend the Health Code and to include all matters to which the Department’s authority extends. Section 556 of the Charter provides the Department with jurisdiction to protect and promote the health of all persons in the City of New York. Section 1043 grants the Department rule-making authority.

[1] Al-Shalan TA, Erickson PR, Hardie NA. Primary incisor decay before age 4 as a risk factor for future dental caries. Pediatr Dent 1997;19(1):37-41.

[2] American Academy on Pediatric Dentistry; Policy on early childhood caries (ECC): classifications, consequences, and preventive strategies. Pediatr Dent. 2008-2009;30 (7 Suppl):40-3.

[3] Ladrillo TE, Hobdell MH, Caviness C. Increasing prevalence of emergency department visits for pediatric dental care 1997-2001. J Am Dent Assoc 2006;137(3):379-85.

[4] Acs G, Lodolini G, Kaminsky S, Cisneros GJ. Effect of nursing caries on body weight in a pediatric population. Pediatr Dent 1992;14(5):302-5.

[5] Dye BA, Thornton-Evans G, Li X, Iafolla TJ. Dental caries and sealant prevalence in children and adolescents in the United States, 2011–2012. NCHS data brief, no 191. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2015.

[6] This is likely underreported as it is self-reported information and children may have had undiagnosed caries (of which parents were unaware) when parents responded to the survey.

[7] New York State Department of Health Third Grade Survey.

[8]DOHMH’s Oral Health Program conducted a survey to determine risk and protective behaviors for tooth decay among children in New York City group daycare centers. Over 1,800 parents and caregivers from 67 daycare centers reported risk and protective behaviors for tooth decay of their children and themselves.

[9][9] NYS Public Health §3000-C. Epinephrine Auto-injector devices. Effective March 28, 2017.

Public Hearing

Proposed amendment to School Based Programs for Children Ages 3-5 (Article 43 of the NYC Health Code)

Public Hearing Date: 
Wednesday, April 18, 2018 - 10:00am

Svetlana Burdeynik, (347) 396-6078,

New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Gotham Center
42-09 28th Street, 3rd Floor, Room 3-32
Queens, NY 11101