House Passes Payne, Jr.’s Homeland Security for Children Act
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Homeland Security for Children Act (H.R. 1372), legislation introduced by Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10) to incorporate children’s needs into disaster preparedness planning. The legislation now heads to the Senate.
“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 Congressman Payne, Jr. during remarks on the House floor. “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.”
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.
“H.R. 1372 provides peace of mind that the future of our most treasured assets—our children—is safe in the face of emergencies,” said Congressman Dan Donovan, Chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications.
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.
The Homeland Security for Children Act has been endorsed by Save the Children. 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.
Congressman Payne, Jr. is the Ranking Member of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications.