AUSTIN (KXAN) – Supporters of a bill aimed at protecting children from drowning celebrated Wednesday morning as the legislation moved toward Governor Greg Abbott’s desk.
Water safety advocates including the Texas Water Safety Coalition, the Central Texas Drowning Prevention Action Team, Live Like Cati, Emma’s Project, Colin’s Hope and the Texas Alliance of YMCA’s joined a press conference at the State Capitol to celebrate passage of what they call Cati’s Act.
The legislation requires parents or guardians to alert child care organizations, such as schools or day camps, about children’s swimming ability. It also requires that organization to provide life jackets to at-risk children if there is a water activity.
The bill is named in honor of Cati de la Peña. She died at six years old after drowning at a summer camp in Cedar Park in 2019.
“We asked that she would be wearing a jacket, they never put one on. It’s a gap that is right now vacant in the child care administrative code, and Cati’s Act would be able to fill that gap,” said Kori de la Peña, Cati’s mother.
Cati’s Act, filed by Rep. Vikki Goodwin, D-Austin, and sponsored by Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, passed the House on May 2 and passed on May 11.
The water safety advocates said Texas has lost at least 16 children and numerous adults to fatal drowning in all kinds of water so far in 2023. An estimated eight times as many children and adults have suffered a non-fatal drowning.
May is National Water Safety Month.