Politics won’t stand in the way of families finding missing loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease and autism.
Kevin and Avonte’s Law (S. 2070) passed the Senate by voice vote Thursday. The bill would help families reunite caregivers with missing loved ones who have a condition associated with wandering. It is named in honor of two boys with autism who wandered away from supervised settings and drowned.
The bill would reauthorize and expand the federal missing persons patient program Congress established for people with Alzheimer’s. The new Missing Americans Alert Program would include those with a condition linked to wandering.
“The feeling of dread and helplessness families must feel when a loved one with Alzheimer’s or autism goes missing is unimaginable,” said Chuck Grassley, (R-Iowa), one of the bill’s sponsors, in a press release. “But when communities are empowered to lend a hand, these terrifying situations can have happy endings. Kevin and Avonte’s Law… makes resources available for technologies that advance the search for missing children, along with specialized training for caregivers and first responders to help prevent wandering by vulnerable individuals.”
Keven and Avonte’s Law would have authorized funding of $2 million per year. The bill would provide resources for state and local education and training programs to help prevent wandering and reunite caregivers with missing family members.
The bill would authorize Department of Justice grants for the development of training and emergency protocols for school personnel, supply first responders with additional resources and for geo-location tracking technology.
Sens. Grassley, Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) introduced the legislation, which was co-sponsored by Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).
The bill is supported by, among others, the Autism Society of Iowa, Autism Speaks, the National Autism Association, SafeMinds, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the American Network of Community Options (ANCOR), National Autism Society of America, the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement, the National Down Syndrome Society, and the Color of Autism Foundation.
Read the bill text here.
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