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Mountain Elementary School to host Ident-A-Kid Day Feb. 5

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By Kirsten Laskey

A co-worker’s experience with a missing child prompted Diane Horton of Los Alamos to take action. While living in Florida, she explained, a co-worker’s grandson was missing. The parents did not have accurate information and the search for the son was unsuccessful.“We just truly believe we can’t do too much to protect our children,” Horton said.As a result, Horton became the program director for Ident-A-Kid, a child identification program.According to its website, Ident-A-Kid is the nation’s largest child identification program. It offers Immediate Response Card software, which utilizes a digital acquisition system. The system can access information about a child including their fingerprint, photograph, height and weight.Ident-A-Kid has operated throughout the U.S. for 21 years, but has operated in Albuquerque for six to seven years. The program was founded in St. Petersburg, Fla., where Horton was first introduced to it. Now, she is introducing the program to Los Alamos during Ident-A-Kid Day, which will be from 8 a.m.- noon Feb. 5 at Mountain Elementary School. During the activity, Horton said she will be gathering information to create identification cards, which are similar to driver’s licenses, but are used to access descriptions about children. The price is $15 for fives cards and they will be issued within two weeks.“It’s a tool to help recover those kids that wonder off,” Horton said.Mike Katko, principal of Mountain Elementary School, said the school decided to host the program to help students and parents be prepared if a child is missing. Plus, the information on the cards are not shared or held in any database, he said.Additionally, if a child is missing, the card guides parents on what they should do, Katko said.“We want to get involved as just a first-step responder,” he said. “We really care about our kids here. It’s a way of reaching out to the parents.”Horton said she takes the program to the schools and day care centers, if she gets approval from the administrators and principals. It takes about 10 minutes and Horton said she can create cards for 75 children in one hour.She added this is an optional program for parents and their children.However, it’s an option Horton encourages families to accept.She said according to data from the Child Rescue Network, 91 kids an hour are reported missing in the U.S. She added young teenagers are the greatest risk.“Our whole mission is for every child and every family to have a chance to participate in the program,” Horton said.For more information, go to www.identakid.com.