Advocates Seek Urgent Passage Of Wandering Bill
Hoping to harness momentum, disability advocates are pushing Congress to fast-track legislation designed to help kids with autism and other developmental disabilities at risk of wandering.
The bill known as Kevin and Avonte’s Law was approved by the U.S. Senate in July. Now, advocates are working to get the House of Representatives to consider the measure yet this year.
With limited time before the November election, the Autism Safety Coalition — comprised of a dozen groups supporting the bill — is asking the House Judiciary Committee to forgo a hearing and move to send Kevin and Avonte’s Law straight to the House floor for a vote.
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“This is a critical piece of legislation, and because of the short timeline, our hope now is that the committee will report the bill in an expedited manner so that it can be brought up before the end of Congress,” said Lori McIlwain, chair of the National Autism Association and a member of the coalition.
The bill would allow the U.S. Department of Justice to issue grants to law enforcement agencies to pay for electronic tracking devices for individuals with developmental disabilities who are prone to eloping.
An expansion of an existing federal program that focuses on the the needs of those with Alzheimer’s disease who are at risk of bolting, the legislation would authorize $2 million in grants annually for the tracking devices, training and other resources to address wandering.
Research suggests that about half of children with autism have wandered from a safe place.
Since 2011, more than 100 people with autism or Down syndrome have died as a result of eloping, according to the Autism Safety Coalition.