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WASHINGTON -CUNA, employing the depth of its grassroots power, recently launched a new partnership with the American Football Coaches Association and others to help keep America’s children safe through the National Child Identification Program. During a press conference on Capitol Hill, CUNA, the AFCA, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a handful of lawmakers announced the new effort. “Our new partnership with CUNA is aimed at tapping the grassroots reach of the nation’s credit unions to place more fingerprint ID kits into the hands of parents so they can better safeguard their children,” the National Child Identification Program Executive Director Kenny Hansmire said. “Our partnership with the National Child Identification Program is a natural extension of the credit union movement’s dedication to community involvement and our `people helping people’ philosophy,” CUNA President and CEO Dan Mica commented. CUNA’s role will be to distribute the fingerprinting kits through its state leagues to credit unions that will hand them out to parents among their members. The program will take advantage of credit unions’ grassroots through the nearly 10,000 credit unions, which have over 85 million members. In addition to the inkless fingerprinting, the kits also include an I.D. card, sections for a physical description and identifying marks, a photograph, and doctors’ phone numbers; a laminated wallet card; and a DNA collection envelope. The AFCA established the National Child Identification Program in 1997 as a community service initiative. The FBI partnered with the AFCA on this project in January 2002. Congressman Tom Osborne (R-Neb. and former University of Nebraska head football coach) represented AFCA at the press conference. “We really think this is a tremendous program,” he stated. “I appreciate what credit unions are doing.” Ed Smart, father of rescued abductee Elizabeth Smart of Salt Lake City, participated in the press conference. “Having identification cards teaches a little prevention is critical,” he said. Others participating in the press conference included Congressmen John J. “Jimmy” Duncan (R-Tenn.) and Mark R. Kennedy (R-Minn.). Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), chair of the Congressional Children’s Caucus, was unable to attend at the last minute, but issued a statement saying, “All of us here have an ongoing interest in protecting our most vulnerable asset-our children. To invest in our future, we must be taking care of our children.” The National Child Identification Program statistics show that more than 800,000 children are reported missing every their homes. Since 1997, more than 14 million identification kits have been distributed. [email protected]

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