Free child ID kits under consideration in Pennsylvania

Protect Children

Pennsylvania may soon offer families free identification kits that could help locate their missing children.

Sens. Camera Bartolotta, R-Monongahela, and Scott Martin, R-Strasburg, said this week they will reintroduce the Child Reunification Act as a proactive step to save law enforcement “crucial” time.

“A child going missing is a nightmare scenario for parents, and families in this terrible situation need to provide personal identifying information about their child to law enforcement as quickly as possible,” Bartolotta said. “It is crucial for families to have this tool available, even if we hope they never need to use it.”

The kits include fingerprinting materials, DNA collection swabs and other information that can be “useful” in an emergency situation, according to a press release.

“When a child goes missing, every second and every detail counts,” Martin said. “Providing this resource to parents will give law enforcement every opportunity to locate a missing child and return them to their family to prevent future tragedies.”

The effort mimics legislation introduced in Congress last year by Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-PA, and Donald Norcross, D-NJ, to encourage parents and guardians to store identifying information about their children in order to aid investigators if and when an emergency should unfold.

Known across the country as the National Child Identification Program, the initiative has distributed more than 70 million kits across North America – including 10 million last year alone.

The program says more than 800,000 children in the United States go missing each year – one child every 40 seconds, on average.

But critics say the program “stokes moral panic” with overblown statistics when more efficient solutions exist.

Stacey Pearson, a child safety advocate and retired law enforcement professional, told The Crime Report in September 2020 the estimated $52 million taxpayer cost of providing a kit to nearly 30 million kids across the country would be “better spent” on tackling issues that children face daily – such as food insecurity or gun violence.

She also noted parents can already access free ID kits through the FBI’s Child ID app.

Martin told The Center Square he was “careful” to take the “least invasive approach possible” given the sensitive nature of the information stored in these kits.

“The safest place for this information is in the parents’ hands, not in any kind of government database,” he said.


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