Autism Wandering Bill Gets New Look
A revamped approach to federal legislation aimed at addressing the needs of kids with autism and other developmental disabilities who wander is garnering bipartisan support.
Two years after U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., originally proposed a bill to establish federal resources related to kids with disabilities who wander, aides say that the senator has reached an agreement to get the legislation off the ground.
Originally, Schumer sought $10 million in federal funds for a new U.S. Department of Justice program that would provide free electronic tracking devices for children with autism and other developmental disabilities who are prone to bolting.
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That goal is pared down somewhat under the revised bill introduced this month by Schumer and U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.
The current proposal dubbed Kevin and Avonte’s Law calls for tracking devices for children with autism and other developmental disabilities to be made available through a reauthorization of an existing federal program designed to help those with Alzheimer’s disease who are at risk of wandering.
Under the bill, the Justice Department would distribute grants to state and local law enforcement agencies to pay for training, tracking devices and other efforts to help keep individuals with disabilities or Alzheimer’s disease safe.
The senators are seeking $2 million for the combined program. That’s an increase over the $750,000 in federal funds allocated to address wandering among those with Alzheimer’s in 2015, but far less than the $10 million that Schumer initially wanted.
Securing Grassley’s support, however, is seen as key because the Republican chairs the Senate judiciary committee, which would hear the bill.
“We must move rapidly to implement the potentially life-saving precautions like voluntary tracking devices that will protect our precious children,” Schumer said in a statement to Disability Scoop. “This technology will allow parents of all children with autism, no matter their means, to use the benefits of a high-tech solution to an age-old problem.”
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