In addition to getting social services to Katrina evacuees, a top priority has been re-uniting family members who lost contact with each other. Also in the chaos were the many cases of children being separated from parents. Children Protective Services is set up in shelters across the state. As shelters begin to close down, the effort to find missing chilren continues.
Children became separated from parents during the evacuation of the New Orleans area, some were rescued in separate boats or they were put on separate buses that went to different cities. Harris County CPS spokesperson Estella Olguin says Houston had 13 children in protective custody. All of them have unique stories.
Also in the shelters with CPS is the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Olguin says they provided the website to create a database with pictures of the children.
Parents and children have been found as far away as Rhode Island. Olguin says they’ve had to be creative to arrrange transportation.
Olguin says one concern is they don’t know where all the chilren are. Not everybody went to shelters. Many families have been taking in Katrina evacuees. As a result, Olguin says there are more parents looking for children, then there are children.
The number to call to register missing children is 1-800-THE-LOST.Currently, CPS is trying to find the mother of a 17 month old child named Sharnell. A Houston family was helping the mother and other families. They had taken her to the Astrodome, while they watched the child. But the mother did not return at the named time and place.