Parents get their children I.D.'d in case they ever go missing
ASHLAND – Seven locations throughout the state are open Saturday for parents to come and get their children I.D.’d, free of charge.
In mid-Missouri, parents can come to the Ashland Masonic Lodge from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m this Saturday only.
The Missouri Child Identification and Protection Program (MoCHIP) and the Missouri Department of Social Services are working together for the first time in this event that has been going on for almost 14 years.
Hayley Lombard brought her two daughters to get their identification information stored. She said parents should that kind of information readily available, in case they ever need to use the AMBER Alert System.
"It's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it," she said.
Misty Wilkerson also brought her two children to the event.
"We want to prepare for the worst possible situation, but always hoping for the best," she said.
Parents received a CD that contains digital photographs, digital fingerprints, vital child information and emergency contacts. They also received a dental bite impression from their children and two laminated ID cards.
After filling out forms with their children's information and signing an authorization form for MoCHIP, parents go through different stations to get all their children’s information recorded.
"It was a little bit of a long process, but I rather it be thorough at this point than us missing something if something were to happen," Wilkerson said.
Rick Kaeser, is president of the Missouri Masonic Children’s Foundation, the organization that brings MoCHIP to communities around the state.
He said said the organizations does not keep any of the information collected from children.
"All of our computers are wiped clean at the end of the day to make sure that we don't retain anything," Kaeser said. "All the information is provided to the parent in a package that they can take home."
He said the goal of the program is to provide personal digital information of their children to parents, so they can bring it to the police if needed. As of Saturday, 240,000 children had been I.D.'d statewide.
Kaeser said it is the first time seven locations operate simultaneously.
"We need as many children I.D.'d as we can get," he said. "Unfortunately, in this day and age all children are at risk, and we want to get out into the communities and provide this information to the entire communities, so that every child can be protected."
Kaeser said MoCHIP provides parents with a valuable tool.
"If you were to wait until the child is missing, then you are going to have to provide all that information individually," he said. "This is a much faster program because you are provided with a packet of information prior to the child going missing, so you got it all at hand ready to go."
But it is not enough for parents just to get their children I.D.'d. Kaeser said the children’s information needs to be up-to-date and readily available.
"We don't want it put in something like a safe deposit box where it wouldn't be available at a moment's notice," he said. "And we recommend that they bring their child back to get the information collected at least every two years, and for younger children at least every year."
Parents will have more chances to bring their children to any of the upcoming MoCHIP events.
Wilkerson said she encourages parents to take advantage of this opportunity.
"Do it, it takes an hour's time, it's really not that hard for the kids to go through," she said.