Keeping Our Children Safe

Rebekah Wright
Rebekah Wright (Courtesy photo)

Rebekah Wright works for the Ohio State School for the Blind. She’s worn different hats there, including a job in the music department, which is home to the nation’s only blind marching band.  “Those kids are absolutely amazing!” she boasts.

Wright, a maintenance repair worker for the school and member of the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (AFSCME Local 11), cares about the children she serves and does her best to improve her community one day at a time.

As a mother of three children who is married to a police detective, community safety is also a top priority for her. When her children’s school several years ago invited parents to fill out kits from the National Child Identification Program, she didn’t hesitate. “I thought it was a great way to keep track of my children in the event of a crisis,” she says. 

AFSCME partnered with the National Child Identification Program (NCIP) and American Football Coaches Association to provide free ID kits to all members nationwide. AFSCME members will receive a free ID kit with the fall issue of AFSCME WORKS magazine. The kits come with easy-to-follow instructions for collecting your child’s personal information, fingerprints and DNA. The completed kit should be kept in a safe place at home.

Peace of Mind

Phyllis Zamarripa’s children are all grown up. But when she learned that AFSCME was sending free child ID kits to all members, she thought of her grandchildren.

“I would feel safer if my daughters did it for their children,” said Zamarripa, a retired social worker who is president of Colorado AFSCME Chapter 76. “It sounds like it would be easier to find them wherever they were.”

Zamarripa said knowing that her children are prepared for a worst-case scenario gives her peace of mind.

“Most likely nothing will ever happen,” she continued, “and I don’t think parents need to live in fear that their children will be abducted. But the fact is, many children do go missing every day in our country, and there’s nothing written in stone that it can’t happen to you. So, why not be prepared and have peace of mind? Especially since it’s so cheap and easy to do.”

Better to Be Prepared

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, more than 460,000 U.S. children went missing in 2015. Some children run away from home, while others are abducted by family members or even strangers. The child ID kits from the NCIP, first distributed in 1997, have helped law enforcement in their search for missing children. Since the program began, more than 26 million kits were distributed. 

“Unfortunately, in this day and age, it’s better to be prepared,” Wright says. “Hopefully there’s never a crisis, but in the event that there is, you have everything compiled in one place to expedite the process in case a child goes missing.”

A completed ID kit can help law enforcement locate a missing child by providing key pieces of personal information, such as fingerprints and DNA. The FBI encourages participation in the program by law enforcement agencies across the United States, and recognizes the child ID program as its preferred method of child identification.

Phyllis Zamarripa
Phyllis Zamarripa (Photo by Bryan Kelsen)

AFSCME arranged a discounted rate for additional kits for members. For instructions en Español, visit http://www.childidprogram.com/the-id-kit/spanish-instructions-id-card.