Sen. Charles Schumer Sunday said he will introduce legislation to fund a program providing tracking devices to families of autistic children, a day after the funeral for a Rego Park teen whose remains were identified Tuesday after he was last seen leaving school in October.
Schumer joined the 14-year-old's mother and grandmother at his midtown office Sunday to announce "Avonte's Law," which, if passed, would provide the Justice Department $10 million for the voluntary program that would enable law enforcement officials to track autistic children if they go missing.
In October, Avonte Oquendo, who was noncommunicative and autistic, wandered from his school in Long Island City. His remains washed up on a College Point beach on Jan. 16.
"I believe there is hope to avoid these scary situations, and there is funding for it," Schumer said.
The federal government provides funding to police forces across the nation for a similar program for Alzheimer's patients. Parents of autistic children would voluntarily sign up and have a tracking device that would alert police if a child wanders.
David Perecman, an attorney for Oquendo's family who spoke at yesterday's news conference, said the family supports the legislation because it would prevent other parents from going through similar pain. Schumer said he expects it to pass quickly with bipartisan support.