Statewide Child ID Program

Published: Sep. 19, 2006 at 6:55 PM CDT
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News Release:

Governor Rick Perry Tuesday announced the award of $1.8 million to the Sheriff's Association of Texas to provide Child Identification Kits that will allow Texas parents to easily record and store their child's fingerprints, DNA and physical characteristics. This information can save precious time in assisting law enforcement authorities in the event that the child goes missing.

"When a child goes missing, every second counts," Perry said. "The odds of safely recovering a missing child are best in the first few hours. With the Child ID program, parents can give law enforcement an invaluable head start in locating their precious loved ones."

Through a collaborative effort with the National Child Identification Program, the American Football Coaches Association and the Texas Association of School Administrators, Child ID kits will be disseminated across the state to K-6th grade students with a letter to their parents explaining the significance of the kit. Each kit will contain an inkless fingerprint card, two swabs to obtain a child's DNA from their saliva, and a laminated wallet card to keep an updated photograph and physical description of the child.

"I encourage every parent to take advantage of this important program," Perry said. "The process is simple, lasts five minutes, and could directly lead to the safe recovery of a missing child."

Nearly 800,000 children go missing every year across America, most of whom are teenage runaways. Governor Perry made the announcement of the grant with Ed Smart, a national spokesman for the National Child ID program and the father of Elizabeth Smart, who was abducted in 2002 and later safely returned to her family.

Perry was also joined by TCU head football coach Gary Patterson; Kenny Hansmire, executive director, AFCA/FBI National Child ID Program; Johnny Veselka, president of the Texas Association of School Administrators; and Steve Westbrook, executive director of the Sheriffs' Association of Texas. Since it was founded in 1997, the National Child ID Program has distributed more than 15 million ID kits throughout the United States, making it the largest program of its kind and the only Child ID program to gain the backing of the FBI.

The grant, along with private donations, will support the distribution of 2 million kits to parents and guardians of school aged youth from Kindergarten through the 6th grade. These funds are awarded under the State Criminal Justice Planning Fund and are distributed by the Governor's Criminal Justice Division. The funds support programs that enhance the criminal and juvenile justice systems through various means, including law enforcement training and development, juvenile delinquency prevention programs, substance abuse treatment programs, victim services programs, and special prosecution and criminal investigation units.