Autism CARES Act Reauthorization Introduced in Congress

February 11, 2019

Senator Menendez, Congressman Smith Unveil New Federal Autism Legislation to Address Challenges ‘Across the Lifespan,’ Continue Critical Research

Last week, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) unveiled the Autism Coordination, Accountability, Research, Education and Support (CARES) Act of 2019, legislation that shapes federal autism policy and investment in research, early detection, and research to develop new treatments and therapies for those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities. The bill builds upon the current, Menendez-authored law, which expires in September, and, for the first time, includes language to ensure those efforts to address the challenges and needs of individuals well into adulthood and “across [their] lifetime.”

“I cannot tell you how many parents I’ve met over the years who lay awake in bed worrying what will happen to their kids when they grow out of school-based support, or what will come of their adult children on the spectrum when they are gone someday. These hopes and dreams and fears have been at the forefront of my mind while drafting the Autism CARES Act of 2019,” said Sen. Menendez. “With autism’s growing prevalence in New Jersey, we cannot afford to ignore this challenge. That’s why it’s so critical we prevail in expanding the focus of the federal government to helping Americans with autism thrive throughout their lives.”

A companion bill was introduced by U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, (R-NJ 4th District) and Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA 18th District) in the House of Representatives. ““Our new legislation will reauthorize vital federal research on earlier interventions for children with autism and expands funding for critical research, education, housing, and other programs that assist the countless children and adults on the spectrum, and their families,” Smith said. “The bill will also help ensure that the estimated 50,000 persons with autism each year who ‘age out’ of critical assistance programs and enter adulthood are supported, as many individuals and communities are unprepared for this transition.”

The bipartisan Autism CARES 2019 affirms Congress’ commitment to individuals with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities and their families.

Autism New Jersey commends our elected leaders, Senator Menendez and Congressman Smith, for their steadfast leadership on behalf of the autism community here in New Jersey and across the nation.

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

More coverage on the announcement:
Asbury Park Press
NJ 101.5