Kevin and Avonte’s Law is named in honor of two boys with autism who perished after wandering. Nine-year-old Kevin Curtis Wills wandered from home, slipped into Iowa’s Raccoon River and drowned in 2008. Fourteen year-old Avonte Oquendo wandered away from his school and drowned in New York City’s East River in 2014. This legislation stands to benefit and protect the many children with autism or other developmental disabilities who wander away from safety
On March 23, 2018, Kevin and Avonte’s Law was passed as a legislative addition to the omnibus appropriations bill for fiscal year 2018. The legislation aims to help safeguard children with autism or other developmental disabilities who may wander away from caregivers. It amends the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, reauthorizes the Missing Alzheimer's Disease Patient Alert Program and promotes initiatives that will reduce the risk of injury or death relating to the wandering characteristics of some children with autism. Specifically, Kevin and Avonte's Law allows Justice Department grants to be used by law enforcement agencies and nonprofits for educational and other programs. The grants may 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.
Kevin and Avonte's Law enjoyed bipartisan support in the 115th Congress. Autism Speaks is grateful for the tireless efforts of Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Maxine Waters (D-CA) in ensuring the passage of this legislation.
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