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October 2013

An Annual Child Identification Day

AMECO member Enfant-Retour Quebec/The Missing Children’s Network has established a successful Annual Provincial Child ID Day in their community. The event has been a great success each year and Director General Pina Arcamone was kind enough to share information about the event that might be helpful to anyone wanting to start a similar initiative in their communities.

AMECO: How long have you been doing this event?

Pina Arcamone: Our Province-Wide Child ID Day was launched back in 2002. Our corporate partner at that time was McDonald’s Restaurants.

A: How did the idea for the event come about?

PA: In 1993, the Missing Children’s Network launched its Child ID program in Quebec. During the year, we would organize and host a number of ID clinics in and around the Greater Montreal area. A few years later, McDonald’s approached us to host an Annual Child ID Day in all of their Montreal locations. McDonald’s photographed the children as each restaurant owned Polaroids; they also printed all the ID booklets and helped promote the day. We ensured that local law enforcement was present at each location, along with volunteers of the Network. Based on the success of this day, McDonald’s asked if it would be possible to add the North Shore of Montreal to the campaign and the following year, we added the South Shore. Because of the close collaboration we have with law enforcement from all across Québec, we proposed in 2002 a province-wide initiative and McDonald’s enthusiastically jumped on board! Since then, our Annual Child ID Day has been a part of our calendar of events. In 2010, McDonald’s Restaurants passed the torch to a Quebec-based pharmacy chain Groupe Jean Coutu.

A: How much has the event grown over the years? Are more store locations and families participating as the years go on?

PA: The event continues to grow every year. We started with 150 locations and this year, 181 Jean Coutu pharmacies opened their doors and welcomed our families. This year, a well-known radio personality served as honourary spokesperson and with the help of a local agency, we produced a 30-second spot that aired free of charge on most radio stations all across the province. We receive huge media coverage on the days leading to the clinic and on the day itself. This campaign allows us to sensitize the public about the issue of missing and exploited children and discuss the importance of always having up-to-date information of one’s child.

Every year, we complete between 12,000-15,000 ID booklets. We also distribute a safety tool. This year, we designed a Real World and Online Safety bookmark that was given to every child that attended the clinic. All around, it’s a very positive day for all those involved.

I am happy to say that several parents of missing children also volunteer on that day! It’s important to note that following the clinic, we receive calls from several schools that wish to have a personal safety workshop presented to their students.

A: Have you run into any logistical issues? How have you solved them?

PA: We have not encountered any serious issues. We hold three production meetings a year and everyone’s role is pretty much defined. We have developed a number of tools and check lists that allow all the partners to stay on track. We are a well-oiled machine by now!

A: Do you have tips for others as to how they can start a similar annual event in their communities?

PA: Start slow; identify a partner that shares your values and is committed to the well-being of children. A partner that has access to all the photo accessories and can offer several locations. A partner that is willing to invest in kids, help overwrite the printing costs for the booklets/ink pads/height charts and support a media campaign (TV; print, radio, web).

A: Is there anything else you would like to share?

PA: Our Province-Wide Child ID Day is now our single most important child safety campaign of the year. It has helped solidify our relationship with law enforcement and the media and has given a lot of credibility to the organization. As an organization, we are sometimes faced with tough decisions. Last year, we lost the support of Canon Canada for our ID Program. Their support was critical as they supplied us with all the cameras, printers, and photo paper. Canon also replaced free of charge any equipment that was malfunctioning. When they pulled out of the program, we were very disappointed as we did not have the finances to replace the equipment. Plus, we were fundraising in a very weak economy, yet the demands for our services and programs were increasing day-by-day. As a team, we made a decision to eliminate all the numerous independent clinics that we hosted in the year. This was very time-consuming on our already limited and stretched resources. Today, we can now focus on one MAJOR clinic a year (law enforcement like this as well as they too are faced with budgetary cuts and cannot support the demands from the community to host several clinics a year) for our mission, which is to recover missing children and prevent others from disappearing. Anyone that cannot attend the clinic has the option to download our Child Alert APP or download from our website, an information record of their child.

Child Find Alberta Celebrates 30 Years of Keeping Children Safe

This Fall is the 30th anniversary of AMECO member organization Child Find Alberta and the 30th anniversary of the Child Find movement in Canada. Since it was established in 1983, the organization has become a leader in educating the public about child safety issues and prevention. In recognition of this milestone anniversary, we interviewed Child Find Alberta’s Executive Director, Brad Bostock.

AMECO: How/why was Child Find Alberta created?

Brad Bostock: Child Find Alberta was formed by a woman who was moved and inspired by the Etan Patz case to become involved in the issue of missing children by assisting families of missing children in Calgary and throughout Alberta. The first major case that the organization became involved in was the Tania Murrell case. Tania went missing on January 20, 1983, and to this day the case remains unsolved. The organization officially incorporated on September 19, 1983, and has been providing services and support to families throughout Alberta.

A: What accomplishment of the organization are you most proud of?

BB: The organization has had many successes and accomplishments that we are very proud of. The greatest accomplishments of the organization have been bringing home over 1,000 missing children and reaching over 250,000 children through our All About Me I.D. and educational programs. Every child that we have touched, supported, and empowered is our greatest accomplishment. Creating awareness and giving children the support that they need to ensure that they grow up in safe environments is what drives us to continue doing the work that we do on a daily basis.

A: Any plans for the anniversary?

BB: To celebrate the anniversary, we are planning a large Gala. This year we will hold our 1st Annual Bright Futures Gala, The Bootlegger’s Ball, and we are excited by the support and engagement from the local community. We look forward to celebrating our milestone with such a unique event. Themed entertainment, a unique venue and an amazing dinner are all part of the plans for the evening.

A: What do you hope the organization will accomplish in the years to come?

BB: Currently, Child Find Alberta is looking to the future and the next 30 years. We are engaged in a strategic planning process that will lay a road map for the next 3 years. This plan will help to define how we offer services to Albertans and what services we will offer. This process allows us to look at our current successes and build upon them to create a stronger organization. We continue to build partnerships with our allies and build upon our existing programming while adding new services and programs to support Albertans. As an integrated member of our community, we look forward to 30 more years of protecting children.

NOTE: Congratulations on this milestone anniversary, Child Find Alberta! We are proud to count you as an AMECO member and look forward to seeing what your organization will accomplish next.

A New Website for ECHO!

AMECO member Exploited Children’s Help Organization (ECHO) has undergone a lot of changes over the last two years. Most recently, they launched a new website which offers easier navigation and much more content than the old site. Executive Director Kendell Nash was kind enough to answer a few questions for other organizations planning a similar change.

AMECO: Did ECHO have help creating the new site or was it done internally?

Kendell Nash: We definitely had help. We have the equivalent of 2.75 full time employees and none of us have the skills to do anything like this. We knew what we wanted the end result to look like and what we wanted it to accomplish (e.g. online requests for programming, online volunteer applications, etc.), and we sort of worked backwards with some creative guidance from the designer.

A: Who helped you and how did you find them?

KN: We are fortunate to have a PR professional sit on our board who was having a conversation with a former co-worker who happens to be a web designer. The web designer was interested in giving to his community but didn’t want a long-term commitment. He was looking for a project that had a beginning and an end. Our board member jumped on the chance to get him to volunteer for ECHO.

A: How long did the process take?

KN: We’ve been working on it for about 7 months. There are still some kinks to work out. We have to be trained on how to create and manipulate content. If we were able to pay a designer, it would have been a much faster albeit much more expensive project. We were super fortunate to have a volunteer and one who is flexible and dedicated to a good end product. We just had to be patient with some delays due to his personal schedule, but I’m not complaining. It’s a beautiful site!

A: What was most important to you as you planned the new website?

KN: We definitely wanted something that was interactive, user friendly, and a one stop shop. You can come to our site and request programming, make a donation, sign up to volunteer, and learn how to recognize and report abuse. It was also important for us to have something that was colorful and positive…something that reflects hope.

A: Do you have any advice for other AMECO members or partners planning on updating their websites?

KN: Make a timeline….and two alternative timelines….and be sure to create a site that is user friendly on the back end so employees can easily update content. Our old website required us to send all changes to a volunteer web designer and wait for them to update. That was super frustrating! Now we can update as needed. Take the time to plan and have lots of pictures!

NOTE: ECHO’s experience not only illustrates the importance of creating a website that can be easily edited by staff but also the importance of building a Board with helpful connections. Thanks to a Board member’s associate, ECHO now has an informative, beneficial website that they are able to update in a timely manner. Please visit http://echo-ky.org and take a look around. Congratulations, ECHO!

Amber Alert Investigative Strategies for Missing and Abducted Children Training

The Tommy Foundation is delighted to announce the Amber Alert Investigative Strategies for Missing and Abducted Children training that will be held from October 7th – 10th 2013 at The Smullin Center in Medford, Oregon. This will provide training for 100 Law Enforcement officers from Jackson- Josephine – Klamath – Siskiyou and Douglas counties, Oregon State Police, FBI, representatives from Jackson Co. District Attorney’s office, and Children Services’ providers who have all registered to attend.

Others that will be attending the training are family members who currently have or have had a missing child. In attendance will be Desiree Young – mother of Kyron Horman; Kim Waller – mother of Kaelin Glazier; Yvonne Company – mother of Domingo Ramirez; Mika Moulton – mother of Christopher Meyer; Vicki Kelly, Dannielle Trotter and Katie Trotter- the family of Tommy Kelly.

This is the first time training like this has been offered in southern Oregon . Instructors from all over the nation will provide information and class scenarios. The Tommy Foundation, based out of Jackson County, Oregon, was instrumental in helping make this training a reality. Having emergency personnel, government employees, media, and others participate in this training will make our state better equipped to handle a child abduction.

Many other agencies have been instrumental in helping to make this training a reality. We would like to thank our community for helping us to make this a success. Without the local businesses that have contributed to this endeavor we would not have been able to successfully put this training together for our participants.