The City Council released its federal agenda this week and named securing funds for Avonte’s Law as one of its top priorities alongside education, housing and Superstorm Sandy recovery.
In a 17-page request made to Washington, the Council outlined several goals for the upcoming fiscal year that it said could not be accomplished without help from the federal government. One request, seeking $10 million in federal grants, would pay for the implementation of Avonte’s Law, named in honor of Avonte Oquendo, the 14-year-old autistic student who disappeared from his Long Island City school in October 2013.
His remains were washed up on a College Point shore three months later.
Avonte’s Law seeks federal grants, which would be administered by the U.S. Department of Justice, to allow local law enforcement to provide parents and schools with voluntary GPS tracking devices for children with autism.
The bill, originally introduced by U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), would expand a similar program Justice currently runs for adults with Alzheimer’s disease that allows law enforcement agencies to more easily locate a person if he is missing.
Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside), who has since written his own version of Avonte’s Law that would expand the program to cover all children with disabilities, said he was glad to see this initiative placed on the federal agenda.
“I am proud to stand 100 percent with my fellow Council members and our speaker as we recognize the important role that Avonte’s Law could play in protecting our children with autism,” Vallone said. “After Avonte’s remains were found in my district, I have fully backed Avonte’s Law so that no parent will have to deal with this type of tragedy ever again.”
The agenda released by the Council identifies more than 30,000 children across New York City who currently have autism.