Updated March 2018: Kevin and Avonte’s Law Passes Congress! Prevent Wandering Related Tragedies – Support Kevin & Avonte’s Law for the Autism Community
Update: March 2018: Kevin & Avonte’s Law passes Congress.
Congress passed the bipartisan legislation, which was included in an omnibus government funding package. The legislation now awaits President Trump’s signature before becoming law.
“I’m grateful for all of those who worked together to get this important bill on the books to honor Kevin and Avonte and prevent future tragedies,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) who sponsored the bill in its second round in Congress.
This legislation will help to educate and train caregivers to prevent wandering and provide our law enforcement officers with the tools they need to help recover missing loved ones,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), another sponsor of the bill.
“I’m pleased Kevin and Avonte’s Law will become law so we can help save lives and give families a greater peace of mind. Kevin and Avonte’s Law will truly make a difference in preventing tragedies,” said bill supporter Senator Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the original co-author and sponsor of the bill in its first round in Congress, said, “I am proud to have continued to speak up for those who cannot and to have co-authored this important bill, which will help Avonte Oquendo’s memory live on, while helping to prevent other children and teens with autism from going missing.”
Update: November 2017: Kevin & Avonte’s Law is Reintroduced to the House
Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) has reintroduced the bill, and it currently stands awaiting considerations of the Committee on the Judiciary and the Committee on Education and the Workforce.
In December 2016, the special needs community eagerly anticipated the signing into law of the Kevin and Avonte bill. A long time in the making, the bill had been approved by both the Senate and the House only to fall through at the last moment, right as the 2016 session was closing. Unfortunately, now we’re back to square one in terms of the legislative process.
The bill was created to honor the memory of two boys with autism, Kevin Curtis Wills and Avonte Oquendo. Kevin Curtis was a nine-year-old who drowned after jumping into Iowa’s Raccoon River in 2008. Avonte Oquendo was a 14 year old who also drowned after wandering from his school in Queens in 2014.
Why should we fight for this bill?
Every year the number of tragic, preventable wandering deaths rises. Children with special needs in general, and autism in particular, are prone to wandering. This is an undisputed fact that we cannot change. What we can do is bring Kevin and Avonte’s bill back in front of policymakers and this time, make sure it’s voted into law.
Should the Kevin and Avonte bill be approved, it would ensure that police authorities, first responders and schools are properly trained in how to handle wandering cases.
Additionally, the law would allocate funds to help families obtain life-saving devices such as the AngelSense GPS Tracker. GPS trackers could help parents prevent their child from wandering in the first place. They would also allow parents to quickly locate their child if they were to get away. Currently, parents have to pay for these technologies out of pocket.
Let’s make a real difference
Some school districts and local police authorities have already rolled out basic wandering programs. However, these don’t begin to meet the unique requirements of the continuously growing population of individuals with special needs. We need to fight to have a permanent federally funded program, with specialized training that creates a deeper understanding of the wandering problem. These measures will dramatically cut down wandering fatalities.
We, the special needs community, must rally together to bring this severe nationwide problem to the attention of policymakers. We need to ensure that the proper legislation is put in place to eradicate wandering related tragedies.
I urge you to help us make a real difference by signing this petition to get Kevin and Avonte’s bill back on track. Let’s stand up and make our voices heard!
Update March 2018: We encourage the community to continue signing the petition , to urge President Trump to sign the bill into law.
AngelSense is committed to creating a safer world for children with special needs. We designed the AngelSense GPS tracking solution to give parents the peace of mind that their child is safe at all times. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]