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FAQ: Organization Questions
 
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Can you tell me briefly about OPERATION LOOKOUT®?

OPERATION LOOKOUT® National Center for Missing Youth is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit family service agency. It was founded in 1984 to provide services free of charge to families whose children are missing prior to age eighteen.

All domestic and foreign investigative casework is provided by skilled Case Managers from fully computerized offices based in scenic Everett, WA., USA. The Center works in collaboration with other child-search agencies, law enforcement, mental health experts, and other authorities involved with the case at hand. Services are always without charge regardless of the search duration.

ON THE INTERNATIONAL FRONT
Our Center is familiar with the International concerns families experience. Each case or country lends to its own set of unique circumstances and responses. Whether the country is Canada or Iran, we can guide families through the crisis.

Are you affiliated with other Missing Children Service Centers?

We are a Founding and Charter Member of AMECO, the Association for Missing & Exploited Children's Organizations. We do not have a legal affiliation with other missing child centers; however, there is a mutual working relationship with other accredited and reputable non-profit missing children service centers as the need arises.

Do you protect the names of missing children?

Depending on the situation. Information may be obtained by contacting our office, viewing poster, brochures, visiting our website, etc.; however, we do not name missing children during our fund-raising campaigns. To assist with cost-effective distribution, brochures with more than 20 missing children are disseminated during campaigns to educate and make the public aware of missing children.

What is your case resolve rate?

Although our case-resolve rate can vary greatly from month to month, our overall rate is approximately 82% since 1984.

Who are the Founders and when was OPERATION LOOKOUT® established?

Mike and Melody Gibson, residents of Washington State founded a grass-roots effort to assist families with missing children in the Puget Sound area in 1984.

What is the history behind OPERATION LOOKOUT®?

In 1984, the Gibson's believed they could at the very least, expand the distribution of Washington State missing children photos in self-published publication. Not long after the first images were in print, parents came forward for help, and so from there, what was once a grass-roots effort using 3x4 cards and hand-made posters, OPERATION LOOKOUT® was formed to do much more than distribute pictures and posters.

From that time forward, OPERATION LOOKOUT® has steadily grown into a fully computerized, award-winning, multifaceted, international child-search assistance center serving families with investigative casework for any geography of origin.

What prompted the Founders to start OPERATION LOOKOUT® National Center for Missing Youth?

When a child vanishes, regardless of the age or reason, parents need more than technical assistance and law enforcement on their side. They need to be comforted, offered tangible support, networking, and resources referrals. The Gibson's strongly believe every family should have someone to stand with them when it feels like things aren't happening fast enough. The empathy the Founders feel comes from knowing that God radically loves every one of His remarkable creations. That kind love is what keeps their momentum in motion, even in the toughest of financial times when the economy is poor and the budget is unstable.

Are the Founders still active in the search for missing children?

Yes. Since 1984, the Gibson's remain active as the indomitable spirit behind OPERATION LOOKOUT®. Their mission remains clear, regardless of the economic difficulties or the duration of the case; it is their goal and objective to stabilize OPERATION LOOKOUT® to ensure missing children services will ALWAYS be available FREE-OF-CHARGE to all families in all geographies long into the 21st century and with the philosophy that "every missing child deserves the chance to be found".

Have the Founders ever experienced the devastation of a missing child?

Not initially. However, 2 years after the organization was formed, OPERATION LOOKOUT's founders, Mike and Melody Gibson's diapered grandson, Jeff, disappeared. His mother called so frantic she couldn't speak full sentences and words came out amongst breathless hyperventilating from running around the neighborhood in a panicky search-Jeff was nowhere to be seen!! Neighbors saw nothing and a child of his age could not have navigated the neighborhood traffic.

Mike and Melody quickly learned that when it's 'your own child' the familial dynamics change and the thoughts of danger are overwhelming. That single experience reminded everyone involved, never to take a traumatized parent's call for help lightly.

They were very fortunate unlike so many other families; Jeff was located in the neighbor's back yard stomping bugs. He was in the policeman's arms when grandma and grandpa arrived with their search kits in hand....A deep sigh of relief will never make up for the moments of anguish felt during the 20 minute drive to search for their grandson.

Sadly, when mother and grandmother drove to neighbors to say he was located, they received a simple stoic nod of acknowledgment; no one had looked, except to glance up while cleaning a BBQ or mowing the lawn. It was this heartbreaking reality of disbelief that strengthened their conviction that 'professional, organized, and official' searches by OPERATION LOOKOUT and the police are an absolute must.

What, if any, leadership role does OPERATION LOOKOUT® play in the community?

We are a Founding and Charter Member of AMECO, the Association for Missing & Exploited Children's Organizations, a cooperative national and international association developed to enhance credibility and quality assurance for its member organizations.

Our organization was appointed a Model Site for the Reunification of Missing Children Project, designed with the Child Find Unit of the King County Police Department, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to establish essential data regarding trauma, travel, and relationships a child endures during their abduction. Through this effort, mental health professionals and law enforcement is coordinated by our center to ensure the child's well-being and a safe recovery.

In addition, we have served on the steering committee for the US Dept of Justice, OJJDP to establish a national conference on missing children.

Has OPERATION LOOKOUT® received recognition, awards, Proclamations, Commendations, or Letters of Support?

Yes. We are recognized as a mutual resource and referral center leader by Law Enforcement, AMECO, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, youth and crisis referral services, media, and private practitioners.

In 1987, OPERATION LOOKOUT® was awarded the OJJDP (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention) and INPOM (Institute for Nonprofit Organization Management) Award for Expertise in the Field of Governance. Later, in 1993, Governor Booth Gardner presented Washington State's first "National Missing Children Day Proclamation" to OPERATION LOOKOUT® for Exemplary Victim Services; Governors Mike Lowry and Gary Locke presented further Proclamations.

Letters of support, commendation, and proclamations can be found in the menu on the right. We are proud of our community and international connections; however, they do not imply endorsement.

Does OPERATION LOOKOUT® use dba names?

Yes. The full legal name of the organization is OPERATION LOOKOUT® National Center for Missing Youth. We also use the following dba trade names in the course of our operation; The Missing Kids Center - OPERATION LOOKOUT®, OPERATION LOOKOUT® - The Center for Missing Kids, and The Foundation for Missing Children®

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OPERATION LOOKOUT®
National Center for Missing Youth
uses dba trade names:
  • The Missing Kids Center -
    OPERATION LOOKOUT®
  • OPERATION LOOKOUT -
    The Center For Missing Kids®
  • The Foundation for
    Missing Children®
IRS 501(c)(3) Federal ID# 91-1298249
 
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