Protect our most Vulnerable - Support Kevin & Avonte's Law!
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There is an important piece of legislation being overlooked in Congress; a legislative Bill named Kevin and Avonte’s Law, whose goal is to literally save the lives of the most vulnerable individuals in our communities all across the United States.
The bill was named “Kevin and Avonte’s Law” after two autistic boys who died after wandering off. Kevin Curtis Wills who was just 9 years old when he jumped into the Raccoon River in Iowa and drowned in 2008. And Avonte Oquendo a nonverbal, New York City 14 year old autistic teenager who drowned in the East River after slipping out of his school in October 2013.
In January 2014, the Department of Justice announced it would begin providing funding to avoid similar tragedies. The funds would come from an existing program that funds grants for locating devices for people with Alzheimer’s, known as the Missing Alzheimer’s Disease Patient Alert Program. The following year the Bill was introduced by Senator Chuck Schumer of (D-NY) and co-sponsored by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IO). When passed, Kevin and Avonte’s Law will provide $2 million a year for wandering prevention programs, training, and locating technology to families and caregivers as well as first responders and school personnel by reauthorizing the Missing Alzheimer’s Disease Patient Alert Program, and include new provisions for people with autism spectrum disorders.
Despite its lifesaving ability, Kevin and Avonte’s Law was not passed completely through Congress during its last 2016 session, but it is our mission to have our voices heard this time around. Help us protect our most vulnerable – Help us turn this law into reality – Support Kevin and Avonte’s Law! By supporting this petition we can encourage congress to pass this important legislation. If enacted, this bill will allow parents and caregivers who voluntarily apply to have non-invasive locating technology attached to their loved one that can be used to help locate someone who has wandered away from their home, school, or other safe place.
What is Kevin and Avonte’s Law?
Kevin and Avonte's Law is lifesaving legislation that will authorize a $2 million per year grant program that will fund education, safety, training, and response tools to help protect individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ADS), Alzheimer’s, and other cognitive conditions who are prone to the life threatening symptom of wandering.
What need is there for this Bill?
Did you know that autism now affects 1 in every 68 children, and among those diagnosed with autism nearly half of those individuals will wander? Did you know that there are now more than 5 million Americans suffering from Alzheimer’s or some other form of Dementia, and of those 60% will wander from a safe place? Wandering is a common behavior among the special needs community; a life-threatening behavior whose presence and consequence has increased significantly over the last few decades, making the necessity for this bill stronger than ever.
When an elopement episode occurs, especially by an “at risk” individual whose condition creates confusion, non-ability to speak, and hyper-sensitivity, it is imperative to locate the missing individual in a timely manner to reduce risks of injury. The longer it takes to locate a missing “at risk” wanderer the more likely the elopement episode will end in an unfavorable outcome. Just as in the cases of Kevin and Avonte, drowning is the leading cause of death among those who wander.
How will this Bill, is passed by Congress, protect special needs individuals?
Through Kevin and Avonte’s Law, public safety and law enforcement agencies and non-profit groups would be eligible for a combined $2 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Justice to provide educational wandering-prevention programming to families and caregivers as well as training to first responders and school personnel. This legislation will assist communities in receiving valuable education on how to prevent individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and children with autism from wandering, and to respond quickly and appropriately when they do.
A great example of the programs to be provided by this Bill is Project Lifesaver. Project Lifesaver is the only 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that has been actively training and equipping public safety agencies in the protection, search, and safe recovery of special needs wanderers. Its program is dedicated to protecting, and when necessary, quickly locating individuals with cognitive conditions who are prone to the life-threatening behavior of wandering; this is done through the utilization of state of the art non-invasive locating technology, innovative search and rescue techniques, and accredited first response training courses created especially for the recovery of special needs individuals. However, public safety agencies participating in the Project Lifesaver program gain more than just a locating program for their community and special needs families, the families gain peace of mind that their loved ones are protected and in the event of an emergency will be rescued and brought home safely. The same peace of mind will be given to families of special needs individuals all throughout the United States should Congress pass Kevin and Avonte’s Law
There are many articles on the Internet that state that Kevin and Avonte’s Law will enable the government to “chip” special needs individuals against their will and track them wherever they go; is this accurate?
To begin with this question, one needs to understand the capabilities of a microchip. Such technology cannot be used as a locating device, but rather a device that contains readable data. Not only would this option be entirely invasive, it would also only help in identifying somebody once found; it would not have the capability to actually locate where they are.
A component of Kevin and Avonte’s Law, if passed, would provide non-invasive locating technology for a non-cognitive individual on a voluntary basis at the request of the caregiver. This technology would not be used to track the movement of these individuals, but rather used to locate them when they wander from safety.
If Kevin and Avonte’s Law is passed, what benefit will it have on the Special Needs communities?
This Legislative Bill will provide protection and security to special needs individuals, and give their caregivers peace of mind that their loved one will be protected. The Bill will allow parents and caregivers who voluntarily apply to have non-invasive locating technology attached to their loved one that can be used to help locate them if they wander away from their home, school, or other safe place.
Kevin and Avonte’s Law can help prevent countless deaths and injuries caused from special needs wandering each year; with the right resources these tragic outcomes are preventable. Support Kevin and Avonte’s Law Now - Be a part of the cause that puts a stop to these senseless tragedies!!
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