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Thursday, March 4th, 2021

House advances bill incorporating children’s needs into future disaster planning initiatives

Donald Payne

The U.S. House of Representatives passed this week the Homeland Security for Children Act, which requires future disaster preparedness planning initiatives to include the needs of children as well.

The bill was introduced by U.S. Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr.

“Children are not tiny adults,” Payne, Jr. said. “But too often, that is how federal policy treats them when there is not a deliberate effort to do otherwise. 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.”

If enacted, the bill would amend the Homeland Security Act to authorize the Under Secretary for Strategy, Policy, and Plans to both review and incorporate feedback from organizations representing the needs of children into department-wide policies. It also amends the Homeland Security Act to authorize the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to incorporate children’s needs into all preparation, response, and recovery activities of the agency.

The legislation also requires the Under Secretary to submit a report to the House Homeland Security Committee on the efforts to incorporate the needs of children into its department-wide actions.

“[The Homeland Security for Children Act] provides peace of mind that the future of our most treasured assets, our children, is safe in the face of emergencies,” said U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan (R-NY), who chairs the Homeland Security Committee Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications.

The bill now awaits a vote in the Senate.