HARRISBURG, Pa. (Erie News Now) – Tuesday, state Senators discussed legislation to reunite missing children with their families. An estimated 460,000 children go missing each year in the United States.
“As a parent, I cannot imagine a more terrifying situation than my child going missing,” said Sen. Camera Bartolotta (Beaver/Greene/Washington). “When families face this terrible situation, there is nothing more important than making sure law enforcement has every tool they need to reunite a missing child as quickly as possible,” she added.
“The idea of a missing child is an absolute nightmare, and every second counts in that scenario,” said Sen. Scott Martin (Berks/Lancaster). “It is crucial for families to have this tool available, even if we hope they never need to use it,” he added.
Senate Bill 460, the Child Reunification Act, would provide free child identification kits to parents so they can work with law enforcement to help find a missing child. The kits would include inkless fingerprinting materials, DNA collection swabs and other information to help identify a child in case of an emergency. The kits would be distributed by school districts for all students in first grade at no cost to parents.
Senators Bartolotta and Martin, who introduced SB 460, received some help from NFL Hall of Famer and Super Bowl Champion Mike Singletary to mark the advancement of the bill out of the Senate Education Committee today. The bill was approved unanimously.
Lawmakers say the legislation is long overdue and is extremely necessary in today’s society.
“Unfortunately, times have changed. The human trafficking rates are increasing dramatically. People harming our children are increasing dramatically,” said Sen. Michele Brooks (R-Crawford/Lawrence/Mercer).
The personal information collected in the kits would only be held by parents and would not be entered into a database. After today’s committee approval, the bill will now head to the Senate floor for a vote.
32 other states have passed a Child Reunification Act.