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05/19/2024 11:30 AM
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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: January 10, 2024 10:14 AM
From: Senator Wayne D. Fontana
To: All Senate members
Subject: Purple Alert for Individuals with an Intellectual Disability
On Friday, January 5, 17-year-old student, who has Down syndrome, went missing after a bus she was on dropped her off at school even though the school was closed for the day. Over the next 24 hours, police and volunteers worked to retrace her steps trying to locate the teen. Although they were successful in finding the girl unharmed, there are many stories of lost individuals with an intellectual disability that don’t have a happy ending.  


Children with disabilities are particularly vulnerable when they go missing due to their unique needs. Some are unable to communicate effectively or even nonverbal while others may gravitate to things that threaten their safety such as bodies of water, busy roadways or highways, or even vehicles like fire trucks and trains. Wandering is also a behavior that sometimes occurs when a person becomes lost or confused about their location. This poses as a major threat to the welfare of that individual since the death rate of someone missing more than 72 hours with an intellectual disability is as high as 88 percent.   


Similar to an Amber Alert, I plan to introduce a bill that would establish a Purple Alert system in Pennsylvania to help authorities notify the public and assist in locating a missing individual with an intellectual disability.  In July, Florida celebrated its one-year anniversary since the introduction of their Purple Alert system which saw a 98 percent success rate. Let’s make this happen in Pennsylvania! 


Please join me in co-sponsoring this bill that would put extra safeguards in place to help those with an intellectual disability get back home safely.  

Introduced as SB1079