Sen. Trey Stewart, R-Presque Isle, listens to debate at the State House in Augusta on Wednesday June 30, 2021. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

PORTLAND, Maine — Maine has become the first state in New England to create an alert system for missing children with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

The Maine Department of Public Safety and supporters of the new system said it addresses a gap in emergency alerts in the state. The new program is part of the state’s silver alert system that was created more than a decade ago to inform the public about missing older residents who suffer from cognitive impairments.

Eighteen states around the country have alert systems for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Maine’s system is the only one of its kind in New England, state officials said.

Republican Sen. Trey Stewart worked with Maeghan Swanson, a Presque Isle mother of a 12-year-old boy who has autism, on the proposal.

It became law last year and is now on the books. Stewart said the system “will protect some of Maine’s most vulnerable citizens and help to save lives in emergencies.”