We strive to educate and advocate to improve water safety laws in Texas.
On June 4, 2019, our Cati attended her second day of summer camp at High Hopes Summer camp in Cedar Park. Because Cati did not know how to swim, we took all the measures to tell the camp Cati would need a life jacket on before entering the pool that Tuesday. On June 4th that request was ignored, and Cati drowned under their care.
In the wake of our tragedy, we learned that drowning is the number one killer of children under 5 and the second killer of children under the age of 15 in the nation. We also learned that many times Texas has led the nation with one of the highest amounts of drownings of children in the nation. Texas requires childcare organizations and their staff to take training on the care of children, but none of it includes drowning prevention for those children. We’ve learned that during field trips involving water activities the ratio of caregivers to children is high. Unfortunately, Texas requires zero drowning prevention education for the caregivers nor requires the use of life jackets for children who cannot swim when they are taken to a body of water. In addition, we are aware that many Texas parents first education on the safety of their child begins when dropping their child off in a childcare center. We learn about SIDS, Baby Shaken syndrome and the flu but we are ignorant to the number one killer in that age group, Drowning.
In 2021 we partnered with Representative Vikki Goodwin and Senator Zaffirini. Rep Goodwin introduced HB 1676 (Cati’s Act ) during the 87th Texas Legislative Session and the bill successfully passed the House but not the Senate. This bill has a simple purpose of filling the void we now have in our child care administration system. The bill, when passed, would close existing gaps by requiring organizations such as camps, schools, and child-care facilities to obtain a parent’s or guardian’s written affirmation of a child’s ability to swim. The organizations would then be required to put the children who cannot swim in properly fitted USCG approved life jackets when these children are in or near a body of water.
The bill passed the House but got stuck in the Senate. We have re introduced the bill for this 88th Legislation session. We are working hard every day to make sure this tragedy does not repeat itself. That not one more family , lifeguard, counselor or staff member live the tragedy of losing a child.
UPDATED: 88th Legislation
We are happy to report the Cati’s Law has Passed the House and the Senate and was signed into law on June 2nd 2023. Thank you to Rep Goodwin, Senator Zaffirini and Senator Perry for advocating for children. As Cati’s parents we will continue the advocacy path in the political arena. We know laws are created so society understands obligations and in this case it is to protect children.
We also want to Congratulate the City of Plano for implementing Cati’s Act before it became a law. They saw the need and took it upon themselves to put it into action!
They set an example for many other cities in Texas. We look forward in continuing our partnership with them and making new ones with others across the state. Thank you!
Chris Alban; City of Plano Aquatics Supervisor
“With staff not knowing what each swimmers skills were, compared to previous summers, summer of 2022 brought more reassurance that at-risk and non-swimmers were equipped with US Coast Guard approved life jackets. Ultimately, we saw a decrease in active drowning responses for our aquatic staff, which we believe was in part of the efforts implemented from within Cati’s Act.”