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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Kevin and Avonte's Law Advances

A Thursday release from Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA):
The Senate Judiciary Committee today advanced legislation to help families locate missing loved ones with Alzheimer's disease, autism or other related conditions. The legislation, titled Kevin and Avonte's Law, reauthorizes the expired Missing Alzheimer's Disease Patient Alert Program, and includes additional provisions to support people with autism. Senator Charles Schumer of New York joined Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley in crafting the measure, which cleared the committee by a vote of 15-5.
Kevin and Avonte's Law is named in honor of two boys with autism who died after their conditions caused them to wander. Nine year-old Kevin Curtis Wills, jumped into Iowa's Raccoon River near a park and tragically drowned in 2008. Avonte Oquendo, 14, wandered away from his school and drowned in New York City's East River in 2014.
'Stories of loved ones who wander away from safety because of a medical condition are all too common. Thankfully, with the help of trained first responders and a vigilant community, many of these stories can have a happy ending. Kevin and Avonte's Law uses proven community alert systems and other technology to help locate people with Alzheimer's Disease or other forms of dementia as well as children with autism spectrum disorders who may be prone to wander away safety. It also helps to equip first responders and other community officials with the training necessary to better prevent and respond to these cases. This bill is an important way to honor the lives lost after wandering away, and to prevent future tragedies. I thank Sen. Schumer for working with me on this bill, and my colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee for moving it forward,' Grassley said.
Iowa has the fifth highest Alzheimer's death rate in America, according to the Alzheimer's Association, with 1,252 deaths in 2013. About 63,000 Iowans are living with the disease. More than 8,000 Iowa children have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, according to a state coalition, and its prevalence is on the rise.
The bill reauthorizes existing programs designed to assist in locating Alzheimer 's disease and dementia patients, and it adds new support for people with autism. It allows Justice Department grants to be used by state and local law enforcement agencies and nonprofits for education and training programs with the goal of proactively preventing individuals with these conditions from wandering off. The bill also provides access to resources for state and local agencies and organizations to assist in locating these individuals who become separated from their caregivers. The grants will facilitate the development of training and emergency protocols for school personnel, supply first responders with additional information and resources, and make local tracking technology programs available for individuals who may wander from safety because of their condition. Grant funding may also be used to establish or enhance notification and communications systems for the recovery of missing children with autism.
Kevin and Avonte's Law is also cosponsored by senators Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Christopher Coons of Delaware and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.
For more information on Kevin and Avonte's Law, view the bill text and summary.

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