Kevin and Avonte’s Law Signed into Law Today as Part of the Omnibus Spending Act of 2018

March 23, 2018

SafeMinds is excited to announce that Kevin and Avonte’s Law, which provides $2 million in funding for training law enforcement, schools, and other community organizations to prevent and address wandering in people with developmental disabilities and people with Alzheimer’s Disease, has passed both houses of Congress and was signed into law by President Trump. The legislation can be found on page 1937 of the Omnibus Spending Act of 2018.

Specifically, the bill provides funding to health care agencies, state and local law enforcement agencies, or public safety agencies and nonprofit organizations to assist in planning, designing, establishing, or operating locally-based, proactive programs to prevent wandering and locate missing individuals with developmental disabilities or forms of dementia who wander, including programs that:

Health care agencies, public safety agencies, or state and law enforcement may also use the funding to design, establish, and operate locative tracking technology programs for children with developmental disabilities or people with forms of dementia who wander. To protect the privacy of those individuals using the locative devices:

SafeMinds Executive Director Lisa Wiederlight stated, “SafeMinds is thankful for the leadership of Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY), Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), and for their dedication to increasing the safety of those with autism who wander. This legislation is a foundational step in recognizing the urgency and importance of appropriately addressing commonly co-occurring medical conditions with autism.”

As a co-founder of the Autism Safety Coalition, SafeMinds vigorously advocated for the bill’s passage. Our actions included visiting Senate and House staff members with law enforcement representatives from the Baltimore Police Department and the Calvert County, Md. Sheriff’s Office; meeting with members of the Autism Safety Coalition and various Senate and House staffers; closely coordinating with staff from the Republican and Democratic leads of the Senate bill—Senators Chuck Grassley and Amy Klobuchar, respectively; and writing numerous letters of support for the bill, and for its inclusion in the Omnibus Spending Act of 2018.

SafeMinds next legislative initiative will focus on improving the Autism CARES Act, which will be reauthorized in 2019. Our organization will work to ensure the Act results in a more effective, accountable, and inclusive Federal response to addressing the autism crisis. Be sure to check in with us, as we’ll be asking our supporters for their feedback and participation.

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