Before adjourning for the year, the United States Senate passed Kevin and Avonte's Law. Kevin and Avonte's Law was introduced in Congress as S. 2070 and H.R. 4221 on November 2, 2017. The bill honors the memory of Kevin Willis and Avonte Oquendo, two boys with autism who perished after wandering from their caregivers. Every year many children with autism - a recent study suggests one in three - leave the safety of their families, homes, and schools and wander off. This legislation would benefit and protect these children and other children with developmental disabilities.
Kevin and Avonte’s Law would "amend the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, reauthorize the Missing Alzheimer's Disease Patient Alert Program and promote initiatives that will reduce the risk of injury or death relating to the wandering characteristics of some children with autism." Specifically, the legislation would allow Justice Department grants to be used by law enforcement agencies and nonprofits for educational and other programs. The grants would facilitate training and emergency protocols for school personnel, supply first responders with additional information and resources, and make locating technology programs available for individuals who may wander from safety.
Autism Speaks thanks Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who sponsored the legislation, and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), an original cosponsor, as well as the staff of the two senators, for their leadership. Kevin and Avonte’s Law now moves on to the United States House of Representatives, where it will be considered in the new year.