Legislation to incorporate children’s needs into disaster preparedness planning was unanimously passed Wednesday by the House Committee on Homeland Security.
In 2015, Save the Children issued a report which disclosed 10 years after Hurricane Katrina children are still unnecessarily vulnerable to disasters. The report noted there are significant gaps in disaster management and recovery and child physical health and trauma.
“The unique needs of children—physical, mental, and emotional—are too often an afterthought when it comes to disaster preparedness planning,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), ranking member of the committee’s Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications. “When those needs aren’t considered, children are put at greater risk of 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.”
The Homeland Security for Children Act:
- Would amend 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;
- Would amend the Homeland Security Act to authorize the Federal Emergency Management Agency to incorporate children’s needs into all of its preparation, mitigation, response and recovery activities, and 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
- Require 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.