The House passed the Homeland Security for Children Act (HR 1372) which incorporates children’s needs into disaster preparedness planning. The legislation now goes to the Senate.
The legislation would amend the Homeland Security Act to authorize the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Under Secretary for Strategy, Policy and Plans to review and incorporate feedback from organizations representing the needs of children into DHS-wide policies.
It also would amend 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 would require the appointment of a technical expert, who may consult with other relevant experts outside of the agency.
The legislation would also 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 DHS-wide policies, programs and activities.
The Homeland Security for Children Act has been endorsed by Save the Children, and former FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate has voiced support for efforts to authorize the Children’s Needs Technical Expert at FEMA, which this legislation would do.
“Children are not tiny adults. But too often, that is how federal policy treats them when there is not a deliberate effort to do otherwise,” said Rep. Donald Payne, Jr., (D-NJ) author of the bill and ranking member of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and
“The Homeland Security for Children Act is commonsense, bipartisan legislation that will ensure that the needs of the most vulnerable among us are adequately integrated into Homeland Security and disaster policies planning.”
“HR 1372 provides peace of mind that the future of our most treasured assets—our children—is safe in the face of emergencies,” said subcommittee chairman Rep. Dan Donovan (R-NY).
In 2015, Save the Children issued a report that found 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.