Following the death of a 14-year-old who walked away from his Queens school, the Justice Department will pay for voluntary-use GPS tracking devices for children with autism or other conditions that put them at risk for fleeing their caregivers. Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said on Wednesday that the federal government already provided grant money for devices to track seniors with Alzheimer’s and that the department would now allow for the grant funds’ beneficiaries to include children with autism spectrum disorder. The teenager, Avonte Oquendo, who had severe autism and was nonverbal, disappeared on Oct. 4, setting off an extensive search. His remains were found in the East River this month, miles from where he was last seen.
The cause of Avonte’s death remains under investigation. Mr. Schumer said the program would be voluntary for parents and would be run by local law enforcement agencies. Senator Charles E. Schumer with Vanessa Fontaine, center, the mother of Avonte Oquendo, and Avonte’s grandmother Doris McCoy. Avonte’s remains were found this month after he disappeared at age 14 from his school in October.Schumer Proposes ‘Avonte’s Law’ to Protect Children With AutismJAN. 26, 2014 Daniel Oquendo, the father of Avonte, touched his son’s coffin at St. Joseph’s Church in Greenwich Village on Saturday.An Outpouring of Support as Avonte Oquendo Is Laid to RestJAN. 25, 2014 Last weekend, Avonte’s family and Mr. Schumer called for legislation to provide the devices. He said he would continue to push for it, to provide a stable source of funding. The senator had put the cost of each monitor at about $85, plus a few dollars in monthly fees. The New York Times