Breakfast Optimists Offers Child ID At Washington

Staff Writer
Parents who register their child at Washington Elementary School will have the
opportunity to assure the safety of their student before the school year begins.
The Warsaw Breakfast Optimist Club is partnering with SafeAssured ID of Wausau,
Wisc., to conduct child identification enrollments. The enrollments will be conducted
during registration times at the school this week and Monday.
This is the first year the program is being offered at the school. It is geared to protect
children by collecting information about the child in instances of a disappearance.
The collected information will better equip law enforcement and the media to find and
get the word out if a child is reported missing.
Optimist Club members will conduct the enrollments during registration times on the
following days this week at Washington Elementary School: Thursday, noon to 6 p.m.;
Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and Monday, noon to 6 p.m.
Former Optimist Club President Ron Donkers attended an Optimist Club international
convention in 2005 where the enrollment program was presented. Donkers challenged the
local club to bring the program to Warsaw.
The program is in affiliation with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
and the National School Board Association.
The enrollments are being cosponsored
by the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department.
The department donated $2,000 to purchase additional kits and wrote an endorsement
letter supporting the program last week.
Fred Nieter, chairman of the project and Optimist Club member, said the club has
conducted the enrollment at two other locations and has received positive feedback.
“We conduct this project with the hopes of a child never coming up missing,” Nieter said.
“Using technology helps us find children if they are reported missing.”
The Optimist Club completed enrollments in April 2005 at the Warsaw Community
Public Library. There were 21 children between the ages of 5 to 17 years old who were
The enrollment also was conducted at the Boys and Girls Club of Kosciusko County and
Baker Youth Clubs in July. There were 53 children who enrolled.
Nieter said the enrollment program has received positive feedback from parents.
“We’ve had nothing but enthusiastic and positive responses from parents towards the
program,” Nieter said.
“The identification information is like insurance, you hope you never have to use it, but
it’s good and valuable to have.”
The identification process provides parents with the capability of distributing critical
information about their child to police agencies and the media if their child is missing.
Nieter said the club currently has 650 kits and is planning to purchase more.
The enrollment process involves entering personal data provided about the student into a
The parent fills out an enrollment form containing personal identification information
about the child such as birth marks and a family code word or phrase.
A digital photograph is then taken for an identification card. The card includes
information such as the student’s enrollment date, age, height, eye color and weight.
A digital video of the child walking and talking is then taken.
“This detects the child’s mannerisms as they answer questions about subjects such as
their favorite sport or the town they live in,” Nieter said.
The final step in the process is digitally recording all 10 of the child’s fingerprints.
All of the information is burned onto a miniCD
and is given to the parent in a jeweled
“We encourage parents to keep the CD in a kitchen cabinet where it will be easy to find if
needed,” Nieter said.
The enrollment form containing the student’s personal information is shredded.
Encrypted personal data included on the miniCD
can only be recovered by a police
agency, Nieter said.
The Optimist Club purchased the equipment in Spring 2005 from SafeAssuredID
the help from several local organizations.
The club contributed $5,000 towards purchasing 550 kits. Grants from the Bill and Helen
Dye Trust, The Kosciusko County REMC Operation RoundUp
and the Kosciusko
County Community Foundation also helped purchase kits.
Local law enforcement said the program is beneficial in better equipping them with the
tools needed to find missing children.
“If the unthinkable could occur such as a child missing or being involved in an accident,
the identification information collected can assist law enforcement in finding or
identifying the child at a faster rate,” said Aaron Rovenstine, county sheriff.
Warsaw Police Chief Steve Foster also supports the program.
“We are fortunate that we live in a community where we don’t have as much criminal
activity as other cities, but that doesn’t mean we are not void of something tragic
happening to children,” Foster said.
He said the program is an opportunity to collect identification data in case it is needed.
Nieter said the club’s goal is to provide the opportunity for every child in kindergarten
through middle school in Kosciusko County the opportunity to be enrolled in the
There is no charge to the parents for the identification kits, but donations will be accepted
to help defray the $10 cost for each kit.
Parents can purchase additional kits for $6 each. Additional identification cards cost $2.
Administrators who wish to have child identification enrollment at their school, or those
who wish to contribute funds toward purchasing additional kits may contact Optimist
Club member Tim Hofer at 2695882.