The Masonic Children’s Foundation of Missouri collected vital information from nearly 200 local children for its Missouri Child Identification Program during the Fort Osage School District’s Family Fun Day Saturday.
With more than a dozen MoCHIP volunteers and laptops inside the Fort Osage High School commons area, pertinent information was gathered from children ranging in age from just a few years old all the way to 21 free of charge. The information collected will be used for law enforcement and media outlets should a child be either abducted or reported missing, said MoCHIP coordinator Jim Adams.
“In our eighth year since the program began, eight children have been recovered unharmed (using MoCHIP),” he added.
The information collected at one of these MoCHIP events is burned onto a miniature compact disc for authorities to upload on a computer inside their vehicle, where it is entered into the Amber Alert system in the event of a missing child. The more information collected by a child’s family and the faster it is entered into a law enforcement’s network the greater the chance of finding the child reported missing.
Once a parent or legal guardian signs a permission slip, a packet containing a child’s fingerprints, photos, ID cards and dental impressions is made.
“First we input data,” said Adams while holding a information collection sheet. A parent or guardian fills out the document asking for specific physical traits and medical needs of their child that may aid in their recovery should they be abducted. The document also asks for a child’s distinguishing marks, such as scars or moles, their doctor and dentist and if they are involved with clubs or other associations.
The next step, Adams explained, is taking photographs, thermal imaging fingerprints, and dental impressions of the child. The Toothprint, like fingerprints, is unique to each individual and help identify a child, he said. The impressions also capture saliva for DNA analysis and used for scent dog tracking.
“Also, ears are just as distinguishable as teeth imprints and fingerprints,” he added.
The program concludes by uploading all the collected information onto the miniature computer disk for a child’s family and the printing of laminated ID cards.
“It’s important to put these ID cards inside a kid’s backpack,” added Adams. “It’s usually the first thing that is thrown out in the event of an abduction.”
All the data collected by MoCHIP during one of these ID events is not retained and deleted at the end, said Adams. “The data packet and disc is strictly for the parents.”
MoCHIP is divided into seven regions across the state and at least one child ID event is held every weekend throughout the entire year, except on holidays, said Adams. He added that 22 other states have a similar children’s ID program like MoCHIP. Also, many foreign exchange students use the MoCHIP ID program because it is used by INTERPOL.
The program is just 38 kids shy of having 200,000 children ID’d in Missouri, said MoCHIP State Coordinator Nick Cichielo. He anticipates that milestone will be reached with the scheduled MoCHIP ID events in Wentzville and Springfield this weekend.
For more information about the program and how you can request an ID event, visit http://mochip.org .