Autism CARES Act Becomes Law

October 07, 2019

The Autism CARES Act, a continuation of the federal government’s response to the needs of the autism community, was signed into law last month by President Donald Trump. The law allocates $1.8 billion in funding over the next five years to help people with autism spectrum disorder and their families. The law will be especially helpful to adults with autism, said U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), one of the bill’s sponsors.

“Every year 50,000 young people who become adults are on the spectrum, and they’re going to need jobs, education, housing,” Smith said. “We’re going to try to make sure nobody is left behind,” Smith said.

The majority of funding will go toward research, support programs, and grants for rural and underserved areas.

We asked Rep. Smith’s office for a breakdown of the budget allocations:

Virtually all of the $296 million allocated to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will go toward research, minus $1.8 million that goes to the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau will receive $50 million that will go primarily to services. The CDC’s $23.1 million will be used for a combination of research, public health awareness, and collaboration.

“Individuals with autism and their families are a federal priority,” noted Suzanne Buchanan, Autism New Jersey Executive Director. “The Autism CARES Act is a smart investment that will help individuals with autism today and for generations to come.”

Other highlights of the law include:

  • Designates regional centers of excellence for ASD research and epidemiology
  • Directs activities to increase public awareness of autism, improve the ability of health providers to use evidence-based interventions, and increase early screening and detection
  • Requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide a report to Congress on the health and well-being of individuals of all ages with ASD and other developmental disabilities.

“The signing of this important legislation into law ensures the federal government will continue to fund and drive critical research into what causes autism spectrum disorder and the development of innovative treatment and supports to help individuals with ASD reach their full, God-given potential,” said U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), co-author of the bill.

Learn more about the legislation:
Read the full press release from Senator Menendez
Read the full press release from Representative Smith

More AutismCARES coverage:
Asbury Park Press
North Jersey Record
ABC News