Rep. Payne Bill to Protect Children from Natural Disasters Signed into Law
(WASHINGTON) – Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr.’s bill, the Homeland Security for Children Act,was signed into law by President Biden today. The new law, formerly H.R. 4426, requires the Department of Homeland Security to include feedback from organizations that represent the needs of children in future department strategies, policies and plans. Rep. Payne, Jr. introduced the bill because hundreds to thousands of children can lose their parents, face food insecurity, and become homeless after floods, hurricanes and other extreme weather catastrophes. The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives on September 29, 2021.
“I am extremely proud that President Biden signed my bill into law,” said Rep. Payne, Jr. “We must make the safety and well-being of children a top priority when we plan for natural and man-made disasters. Children suffer the most when these tragedies occur in communities. We must have a strategic and comprehensive plan to handle their needs before, during and after any emergency. We have a moral obligation to protect the next generation from harm during these catastrophic events.”
“With disasters – whether natural or manmade - on the rise, we must continue to do more to ensure the well-being and safety our nation’s most vulnerable, particularly our children,” said Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson. “When faced with disasters or emergencies, children face a far greater risk of negative outcomes than the rest of us. I thank Congressman Payne for sponsoring this legislation and for being a leader on children’s issues – and I thank President Biden for signing it into law.”
In addition to the feedback from the organizations, the new law 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 would 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.
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Patrick Wright at Patrick.Wright@mail.house.gov