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Following Missing Girl, Fla. Foster Care Agency Can't Find 969 Kids

June 09, 2002|From Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A state agency that supervises foster children has not been able to contact 969 children under its care, missing a May 31 deadline, officials said Friday.

Gov. Jeb Bush in April ordered the state Department of Children and Families to visit or contact each of the 46,403 children under state supervision by May 31.

His order followed the disappearance of 5-year-old Rilya Wilson, a child under state care who was missing for 15 months before state officials noticed.

By May 31, the agency still had not found 1,237 children and Friday said that 969 children, or about 2% of those in state care, had not been found. The agency is supposed to visit the children every month.

The agency classified most of those children who had not been contacted as runaways, abducted by relatives or living in other states.

Officials said they are still trying to visit some of the children, including 421 who have been placed out of state.

"It's a number we're not happy with," said Alia Faraj, the agency's spokeswoman. "But it's a step forward. It's a huge effort."

A message left with the DCF was not immediately returned.

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