COLUMBUS – As children head back to school, the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) is reminding parents of tools available to quickly locate a child that has been separated from a parent.
When a child is reported missing, the first few minutes and hours are crucial. It is important for parents to have accurate and current information about the child, including photographs.
The BMV can issue state identification (ID) cards, which include a digital photograph, to children of any age. When a state ID is issued, the photo and information on it becomes part of a statewide Operator’s License/Identification database and can be readily accessed by law enforcement officials through the Ohio Attorney General’s secure web site, the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway if a child is reporter missing or abducted.
When the initial report of a missing or abducted child is made, his or her state ID photo can be sent to sheriff’s departments, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, police departments, the Ohio Missing Children’s Clearinghouse, Ohio AMBER Alert Plan, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and police departments and media outlets across the country within minutes. A state ID can also protect against the increasing problem of a child’s identity being stolen.
A BMV-issued state ID card costs only $8.50 and is valid for up to four years. Parents of very young children may want to renew photos annually. Once the state ID is obtained, parents are encouraged to sign up for the Next of Kin Registry. Two emergency contacts can be added into the Next of Kin registry to be used by law enforcement in the event a parent is ever separated from the child. If the individual is ever involved in an emergency situation or otherwise unable to communicate, law enforcement will use the Next of Kin information to notify these emergency contacts.
Additional information is available on the Ohio BMV web site: http://bmv.ohio.gov/idrkids.stm. The web site also lists important information regarding what documents parents or guardians must bring for themselves and their children to prove their identity when applying for a state ID card.