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Providing education and preventive/search strategies for critical missing persons due to wandering and elopement

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $124,910)

PFA Project Abstract


Pathfinders for Autism (PFA) is requesting $124,910.45 o implement a comprehensive education and public awareness program in Maryland on the risks and strategies for wandering and elopement. There are nearly 30,000 individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or other intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD) in Maryland at risk for wandering and elopement.

           The program will be delivered over the 2-year grant period through training classes for first responders (fire/EMS and law enforcement - academy, in-service and Crisis Intervention Teams), parents/guardians, school personnel, clinicians and the general public. We will increase public awareness through social media campaigns, website content, and resource fairs.

           PFA will teach 65 classes for first responder agencies across Maryland which include a robust wandering and elopement segment. Our curriculum and staff instructors are certified in accordance with the appropriate Maryland training commissions.
           PFA will create and host 6 regional workshops for parents and other caregivers on wandering and elopement prevention and strategies.  

           PFA will provide 10 training for school personnel on an overall understanding of autism and address both prevention and steps to take when an individual goes missing.

           PFA will teach 10 classes for clinicians that include wandering and elopement risks and resources for them to share with their clients’ caregivers.

           PFA will provide 4 classes for the general public which will include the risks of wandering and elopement.

           PFA will exhibit at 30 developmental disability resource fairs and participate in public safety days which are sponsored by local law enforcement agencies. PFA will display materials which highlight the risks of wandering and elopement, training opportunities, prevention strategies and other resources.
            With grant funding, PFA will update and produce 1000 wandering and elopement Safety Kits to be distributed at resource fairs, public safety events, PFA events, targeted schools, and adult day programs.
            PFA will promote and educate the public about wandering and elopement risks and strategies by sharing resources through 20 social media posts and 20 email blasts. PFA will also scan the social media pages of local police agencies for critical missing persons posts to share. 
            The PFA website is a comprehensive vehicle for providing ASD/IDD related resources and information. Our website contains a section titled Safety, which includes a subsection devoted to wandering and elopement resources. With grant funding, we will update any resources and information in need and search for new resources to add to those web pages. In addition to the website, PFA has a robust strategic communications process to disseminate wandering and elopement information through its social media channels.

Date Created: September 27, 2022