Schumer calls for expansion of program that provides wearable tracking devices

Nov 22, 2017

Credit Randy Gorbman / WXXI News

New York Senator Chuck Schumer made a stop at the Mary Cariola Children's Center on Wednesday to push for legislation that would provide wearable tracking devices to families that need them for children, or adults who might wander away due to a disability.

The New York Democrat says that Monroe County is among one-third of counties in New York State who don't have such program right now.

He says Livingston, Ontario and Wayne Counties do that the devices which can be given to families who has kids with developmental disabilities, such as autism, or adults with Alzheimer’s.

The devices would be used strictly on a voluntary basis, but they could be worn on the body or sewn into clothing, to help families find their loved ones if they wander away.

Schumer says the need for such devices can be critical for some families.

“One-third of missing person cases in 2017 , the National Autism Foundation found that one-third of missing person cases of those with autism then required medical attention.”

Schumer says the cost of the program, about $5 million or $6 million, is not particularly large for a program like this which can also save the expense needed by law enforcement to search for missing children or adults.

Sarah Milko is executive director of AutismUp, which is an organization in the Rochester area that helps families living with autism.  She is the parent of an autistic teenager, and she says devices like these could make a real difference.

“As a parent it’s my biggest fear , so many of our children, part of the disorder, is language and communication. So not only does a child have a tendency, maybe to wander off, but they could look up and realize, wow, I don’t know where I am, and they don’t have the ability to ask for help."

Schumer says some counties in New York, including Livingston, have the devices right now, and in fact he says that one is being used for Starrlita Smith, a Leicester woman with special needs who disappeared from her parent's care last month and was later found safe.