Today President Biden signed the “Homeland Security for Children Act,” which requires the Department of Homeland Security to ensure that the needs of children are considered in homeland security planning.
The bill was introduced in July 2021 by Rep. Donald Payne (D-N.J.) to require that DHS incorporate the needs of children in mission planning and execution, including by consulting with organizations representing the needs of children whenever practicable.
“We must make the safety and well-being of children a top priority when we plan for natural and man-made disasters,” Payne said then. “When these tragedies occur, it is the children of communities who suffer the most. We must have a strategic and comprehensive plan to handle the needs of children before, during and after any emergency. I believe we have a moral obligation to protect the next generation from harm during these catastrophic events.”
The act directs the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to identify and integrate the needs of children into all emergency preparation, protection, response and recovery activities dealing with natural and man-made disasters as well as terrorist actions. It will create a new position of Children’s Technical Expert within FEMA to guarantee that the needs of children are addressed and considered during these agency activities.
H.R. 4426 also requires DHS to report to the Congress annually for five years on implementation of the act.