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Schumer, Oquendo family push for alert program for autistic kids

A funeral for Avonte Oquendo, held at St.

A funeral for Avonte Oquendo, held at St. Joseph's Church on January 25, 2014. Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

A day after the funeral for Avonte Oquendo, Sen. Charles Schumer said he will introduce legislation to create fund a program that would provide tracking devices for the families of autistic children.

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 Department of Justice $10 million for the voluntary program that would enable law enforcement officials to track autistic children if they go missing.

In November, Avonte, who was non-communicative 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 already provides funding to police forces across the nation for a similar program for Alzheimer's patients. Parents would voluntarily sign up and have a tracking device, such as watch or ID card, that would alert police if their child wanders beyond a set perimeter.

David Perecman, the Oquendo family attorney who spoke at yesterday's news conference, said they support the legislation because it would prevent other parents from going through their pain.

"We know he left school but the question we seek to answer is why and what mistakes that were made and how do we fix them," he said.

Schumer said he expects "Avonte's Law" to pass quickly with bipartisan support and expects the funding to start in the next few months.


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