Authorities in Sioux Falls are launching a program to help identify children with special needs who go missing. Parents can enter details about their kids in a Sioux Falls police database. That can make it easier to distribute information to officials if a child is lost.
Police in Sioux Falls now have a database to house information on children with disabilities so they have quick access if a child is missing. Parents can use an online form to register in the Special Needs Directory. Details include name, height, weight, disabilities, any means of tracking the child – and a place to add a photograph.
Police Sergeant Tim Hagen says database entries eliminate time required to collect the information and distribute it to officers around the city when parents realize a child is lost.
"A child with special needs, particularly autism, they have a tendency to wander or elope or abade, whatever word you want to use," Hagen says. "But due to their special needs and their disability, they are at a much greater risk of being injured or killed while they’re basically out wandering – basically walking into traffic or finding a pond of water or sewer drain or construction equipment. Things that fascinate all children seem to fascinate autistic kids a little more."
Hagen says a parent of a boy with Autism who is prone to wandering wondered what resources were available to help in emergency situations. Authorities are working with the South Dakota Parent Connection to encourage people to register, because children are in danger every minute they’re lost.
"But if we can have these questions answered prior to the kid going missing and available, that could make a response time and recovery from 20 minutes to 10 minutes, and that could be all it takes," Hagen says.
Police are starting with offering the directory for children with special needs in the Sioux Falls metro area. If that’s successful, they are considering adding a database for adults with disabilities – especially people with Alzheimer's and dementia.
Authorities say it’s easy to add or remove entries from the database, and it’s up to parents to decide if they want their children included. Click here to learn more or register your child on the Sioux Falls Police Department’s Special Needs Directory.