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Keeping tabs on the tykes

July 20, 2012
By Deb Gau , Marshall Independent

MARSHALL - On a day when a lot of the action in Marshall's downtown was out on Main Street, a steady stream of families were headed indoors, up the stairs to an office above Wells Fargo Bank.

What was waiting for them wasn't a typical Crazy Days bargain, but a chance to help keep kids safe.

KidsID, a child safety program sponsored by the Masonic Grand Lodge of Minnesota, held a free event Thursday. Parents or guardians of children could have their child's photo, fingerprints, voice and other identifying information recorded in case of an emergency.

Article Photos

Photo by Deb Gau

Robyn Winter held Xander Winter’s fingers over a digital fingerprint scanner during the KidsID event in Marshall, while Kadyn Nath looked on. The KidsID program provides parents with their child’s fingerprints and other identifying information, to use in case of emergencies.

"I didn't think there would be so many kids here. But that's good," said Chad Boeck, as he waited in line with his wife Nicole and their children Sophia and Kaden.

"I thought, every little bit helps, in case something happens," Nicole Boeck said about coming to the event. "We want to do what we can."

The idea behind KidsID, said the program's state chairman Robert Holly, is to give parents all the identifying information that law enforcement would need if a child is abducted or goes missing.

"In Minnesota, the program started in 2009. It came out in 2006, and some other states had it at that time," Holly said. Supporters in Minnesota were eager to bring it to their own communities.

David Edens, a member of the Masonic Delta Lodge 119 in Marshall, said it was exciting to have KidsID in town.

"Ever since we heard about this, we wanted to get them here," Edens said. "It's such a valuable service."

On Thursday, KidsID workers met families at several portable computer stations, where they entered identifying information, took photos, recorded voices and digitally scanned fingerprints of each child. The information was burned onto computer discs and given to parents for safekeeping. In addition to the discs, parents also received laminated ID cards to help if a child was lost in a crowd, and a DNA sample taken from a swab of their child's cheek.

"The information isn't on any database," Holly said, to insure that kids are protected. "The parents have everything." KidsID's computer program doesn't even retain a child's information once it's transferred to a disc, he said.

It doesn't cost families to participate in KidsID, Holly said. Instead, local businesses or organizations help cover the cost of an event.

Holly said KidsID had more than 1,500 participants last year, and hopes to keep raising that number. "I wish it was 15,000," he said.

During Thursday's event, it looked as if the program had gotten the attention of many area parents, and even some child care providers. A child can only participate in KidsID if he or she is with a parent or legal guardian, but care providers said they'd recommend it to others.

"I've got my two kids here, and I'll let the parents at the day care know about (the program)," said Marshall day care provider Robyn Winter.



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