On Wednesday, December 7, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 4919, the Kevin and Avonte’s Law of 2016, under suspension of the rules. H.R. 4949 was introduced on April 12, 2016, by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and was referred to the Committee on Judiciary, and in addition the Committee on Education and the Workforce.
H.R. 4919 reauthorizes an existing Department of Justice (DOJ) grant program, the “Missing Alzheimer’s Disease Patient Alert Program,” at $2 million for each of the fiscal years 2017 through 2021. The bill also extends the program to cover children with autism, who may be susceptible to the same type of wandering behavior as those with autism. The bill allows grants to be used to help facilitate the development of training and emergency protocols for school personnel, supply first responders with additional information and resources, and make local tracking technology programs available for individuals who may wander from safety because of their condition.
The bill also includes various stipulations regarding the disbursement and audits of the grants. In addition, the bill, as amended, addresses privacy concerns related to the administration of the program related to tracking technologies. To offset the cost of the program, the bill eliminates the authorization for the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation (BCJI) Program for FY 2017.
The Missing Alzheimer’s Disease Patient Alert program was enacted as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. The purpose of the program is to locate and respond to those with Alzheimer’s and dementia who go missing. Congress provided appropriations for the program of $750,000 to $2 million annually from FY1996 through FY2015. No funding was appropriated for FY2016. Grants have been awarded under the program to a variety of entities, including the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), Alzheimer’s Association, Project Lifesaver, and universities.
The bill reauthorizes existing programs designed to assist in locating Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia patients, and it adds new support for people with autism. It allows Justice Department grants to be used by state and local law enforcement agencies and nonprofits for education and training programs with the goal of proactively preventing individuals with these conditions from wandering off. The bill also provides access to resources for state and local agencies and organizations to assist in locating these individuals who become separated from their caregivers. The grants will facilitate the development of training and emergency protocols for school personnel, supply first responders with additional information and resources, and make local tracking technology programs available for individuals who may wander from safety because of their condition. Grant funding may also be used to establish or enhance notification and communications systems for the recovery of missing children with autism
According to the bill sponsor, “We all empathize with a parent who learns that their child is missing, including and especially when that child has autism or another developmental disability. When children with a disability or seniors with Alzheimer’s do wander, time and training are essential to ensure their safe return.”
 See CRS Report, “Missing Adults: Background, Federal Programs, and Issues for Congress,” June 1, 2016.
 See Rep. Chris Smith Press Release, “New grants would help law enforcement and NGOs prevent wandering in autism and Alzheimer’s communities,” April 13, 2016.
A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) cost estimate is currently not available. However, the Committee has indicated that the bill is fully offset.
For questions or further information please contact John Huston with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 6-5539.