It appears efforts made by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles to promote its ID R Kids program have paid off, as an increasing number of people are taking advantage of the program.
Through the program children ages 15 and under can get an identification card for $8.50 that looks much like a driver's license and includes the child's name, address, date of birth, sex, height, weight and hair and eye color.
"The main advantage of it is the information would be available at a moment's notice for law enforcement or whoever needs it," said Geoff Dutton, media relations director for the Ohio Department of Public Safety. "If you find a lost child they'd be able to find information about where they're from and (information about) their parents."
By listing a child's next of kin in connection with his or her state ID, authorities are able to get in touch with the child's parents or guardian.
"It's not important that the kid has the ID on him, the idea is the information about the child is in the system and available for first responders," Dutton added. "Our BMV database is accessible all over the country."
Dutton said the program started in 2005 but officials with the agency recognized in recent years that it hasn't been utilized as much as it could be due to state residents not realizing it exists.
ID R Kids
Program administered through the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
Children up to age 15 can get an identification card which looks much like a driver's license and includes the child's name, address, date of birth, sex, height, weight and hair and eye color.
Cards cost $8.50 each and can be obtained through any Ohio Deputy Registrar. Visit www.bmv.ohio.gov for information.
"There's been more effort in the last year or so to promote this so we hope to see the numbers continue to grow in the next few years," he said.
Statistics he provided show the program is in fact growing in popularity. So far this year there have been 8,212 identification cards issued statewide, which is more than the 7,938 cards that were issued through June of last year.
Dutton said the agency is promoting the program through its website and through brochures placed in BMV offices statewide. He said the agency is also using its Facebook page to promote the program and information about the program will be available at the Ohio State Fair, to be held in Columbus July 25 to Aug. 5.
"The first step we started doing is tracking the numbers," Dutton noted. "They want to get a sense of where the program is so they can get an idea of how to promote it."
From January 2006 through the end of June there were a total of 106,202 identification cards issued statewide. Numbers for Washington County were not immediately available.
Identification cards for children are available at any Ohio Deputy Registrar. In Marietta the Deputy Registrar is located in the Frontier Shopping Plaza. Proof of the child's full legal name, date of birth, social security number, legal presence and residency must be provided. Identification cards are valid for four years.
Trooper Michael Bettinger with the Marietta Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol said he thinks the program sounds like one that would be beneficial.
"If a kid gets lost...he can reach in his pocket and get his information," Bettinger said.
The Marietta Police Department will do its part to help parents during the Marietta Sweet Corn Festival, to be held July 20 and 21 at Muskingum Park.
Marietta Police Capt. Jeff Waite said the department will offer to take fingerprints of children through age 18 free of charge. The fingerprints will be given to parents, he said.
"If the child is abducted or comes up missing they can go to a safe and they have their fingerprints," Waite said.
He said it has not yet been determined what day or time the fingerprinting will be offered.