WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House Committee on Homeland Security unanimously passed legislation introduced by Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10) to incorporate children’s needs into disaster preparedness planning. “The unique needs of children—physical, mental, and emotional—are too often an afterthought when it comes to disaster preparedness planning,” said Congressman Payne, Jr., Ranking Member of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications.
“When those needs aren’t considered, children are put at greater risk of both harm during an emergency and of long-term trauma. Children are the most vulnerable during disasters, and emergency planning must reflect that. By incorporating the needs of children into all disaster preparedness efforts at the Department of Homeland Security, this bill takes an important step to ensuring our children are safe from harm.”
In 2015, Save the Children issued a report that found that 10 years after Hurricane Katrina, children remain unnecessarily vulnerable to disasters. The report noted that significant gaps remain in the areas of disaster management and recovery and child physical health and trauma.
The Homeland Security for Children Act:
Amends the Homeland Security Act to authorize the Under Secretary for Strategy, Policy, and Plans to review and incorporate feedback from organizations representing the needs of children into Department-wide policies;
Amends the Homeland Security Act to authorize the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to incorporate children’s needs into all preparation, mitigation, response and recovery activities of the agency. To carry out this responsibility, this section requires the appointment of a technical expert, who may consult with other relevant experts outside of the agency; and
Requires the Under Secretary to submit to the House Committee on Homeland Security and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, a report on the efforts undertaken to incorporate the needs of children in Department-wide policies, programs, and activities.