2015 logo1 (2)Taking place on the second Monday in September every year, Missing Children’s Day is an incredibly important day in the state of Florida.

This year, the 17th Missing Children’s Day falls on Sept. 12, 2016. The ceremony will take place in Tallahassee at the State Capitol Courtyard, hosted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Missing Endangered Persons Information Clearinghouse (MEPIC) advisory board.

The objective of this day is to raise awareness of Florida’s currently missing persons as well as to educate the public on childhood safety and abduction prevention, and to recognize those individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the missing persons’ issues.

There are two main components of this day. First, a formal ceremony takes place in remembrance of Florida’s past and present missing children and in recognition of those citizens and law enforcement officers who have gone above and beyond in missing children’s investigations. Secondly, there is a child identification/safety fair at which children are finger-printed, photographed and provided with child safety materials for themselves and their parents.

According to John Pitta, president of the Florida Missing Children’s Day Foundation, a reception for the parents of missing children takes place the night before.

“It’s sponsored each year by the Florida Association of School Resource Officers,” Pitta says.

Pitta also adds there is a breakfast the next morning for families and award winners and nominees. Afterwards, the formal ceremony takes place.

“That’s where the children are honoured,” Pitta says. “We also present the awards.”

The award categories include:

  • Citizen of the Year;
  • Combatting Human Trafficking Award;
  • Local Law Enforcement Officer of the Year;
  • State/Federal Law Enforcement Officer of the Year;
  • Jimmy Ryce K9 Trailing Team of the Year;
  • Law Enforcement Task Force of the Year;
  • School Bus Operator of the Year; and
  • Young Hero Awards.

For more information, visit http://www.fmcdf.org/.