Federal Budget Cut: Missing Funds for Missing Kids

News Release For Immediate Release
January 30, 2003

Everett, Washington – Hundreds of calls, faxes and emails are making their way into the offices of US Senators concerning a proposed $1.3 million cut from a discretionary fund for the protection of children.

The budget cut, unless restored before final passage of the Federal 2003 Fiscal Budget, would take urgently needed funding away from AMECO (Association of Missing and Exploited Children’s Organizations). AMECO exists for the benefit of the various non-profit centers across America that operate free of charge, and provide assistance to searching and victim-families of missing, exploited, and runaway children. This proposed budget cut would create insufficient resources to continue the programs as they are now funded.

The $1.3 million cut would also present a major inconsistency in the wake of a flood of new promises of support made by the administration at the first-ever White House Conference on Missing, Exploited, and Runaway Children just held in October, 2002.

Before a crowd of 600 representatives that work on behalf of the nation’s missing, exploited and runaway children, President Bush stated, “This White House Conference on Missing and Exploited and Runaway Children is important for America. It just is…This is the beginning of a refocused effort at the federal level to help save people’s lives. This is an attempt — more than an attempt — this is the beginning of a successful strategy implemented at all levels of government and all parts of our society to recognize a real threat and to deal with it, to recognize there are some so evil in our society that they’re willing to harm our most precious and most vulnerable citizens; and to be prepared to respond quickly when that happens…”

After attending the White House Conference in Washington, Michael Gibson, President of OPERATION LOOKOUT®: National Center for Missing Youth, voiced his encouragement of the administration’s new strategy and effort at a federal level to assist non-profit missing and exploited children’s organizations. Now Gibson cautions, “I would say the administration’s efforts are off to a rough start, if cutting a discretionary fund for the protection of children is an example of the ‘new beginning of refocused effort’ at the federal level. This budget cut will greatly diminish funding for desperately needed educational and prevention programs, as well as services offered by NPOs on behalf of missing children and their searching families.”

Barbara Smith, PH.D. – Executive Director of AMECO (Association of Missing and Exploited Children’s Organizations, Inc.) said of the budget cut, “Overall, we want to restore a $2.4 million Discretionary Fund for the Child Protection Division of OJJDP (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention). I hope this money gets put right back where it could help us.”

Citizens concerned for the plight of missing, exploited and runaway children in our nation are encouraged to immediately contact their US Senator and ask that the $2.4 million budget funding be restored to the Discretionary Fund for the Child Protection Division of OJJDP (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention / DOJ).

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