A bill introduced by State Rep, Diana Urban (D-North Stonington/Stonington) concerning children affected by disasters and terrorism was signed into law Friday by Gov. Dannel Malloy at the State Capitol, according to a press release issued by Urban’s office.
The legislation-Public Act 11-66, An Act Concerning Children Affected by Disaster and Terrorism, received overwhelming support in the 2011 General Assembly session.
“I am very pleased that Governor Malloy has highlighted passage of this legislation because it addresses planning specifically for children in natural and man-made disasters,” Rep. Urban said in the release. “The law will assure that specific plans for our children are included in our state-wide disaster plan and that there will be working plans for the reunification of families. It is so important for parents to know exactly where their children will be in the case of a disaster. As a parent myself, I can’t imagine being caught in a disaster situation and not knowing where to find my child. There was a particularly poignant story from Katrina where, due to lack of information, a young child was not reunited with her family for 6 months. That will never happen in Connecticut.”
The law requires the commissioner of the state Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS) to amend the state’s civil preparedness and program to include planning and activities specifically for children in the event of a natural or man-made disaster and terrorism.
Commission on Children Executive Director Elaine Zimmerman praised Representative Urban for bringing together various agencies and constituencies. “Connecticut was among the first states in the nation to pay attention to the needs of children and homeland security following the attacks of September 11, 2001, and that the new law keeps Connecticut in the forefront.”
By law, DEMHS must prepare a comprehensive plan and program for civil preparedness. The law requires the following;
- Planning children’s evacuation and removal to a safe location.
- Notification of parents.
- Reunification of parents with their children.
- Care for children with special needs
By January 1, 2012, the DEMHS commissioner must report annually to the General Assembly on homeland preparedness and emergency response plans for children.