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Home > Press Page

Tuesday, September 3, 2013A new Sheriff’s Police unit dedicated to rescuing runaway or missing children has recovered more than 200 at-risk juveniles, Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced today.

Sheriff Dart launched the Cook County Sheriff’s Child Protection Response Unit in October 2012 as a result of his dissatisfaction with the capacity of the local authorities charged with maintaining the safety of wards of the state. In the ensuing 10 months, the unit has recovered 211 juveniles, nearly all of whom are DCFS wards.

The 211 children included 91 males and 120 females. 75 percent of the females were found at risk of being sexually trafficked.

Lengths of investigations vary based on the age of the missing children. Juveniles ages 0-5 (6.7 percent of the 211 kids) are usually rescued within days. Juveniles ages 11-15 (33.6 percent) are typically rescued within two weeks. Searches for juveniles ages 16 and up (59.7 percent) can last between 1-6 months.

While the Child Protection Response Unit operates throughout all of Cook County, the majority of its work has taken place within Chicago.

Child welfare has long been a signature issue of Sheriff Dart, dating back to his tenure in the Illinois State Assembly. As a State Representative, he chaired a House task force on protecting the rights of abused and neglected children. He also served as chief sponsor of 12 child welfare bills, ushering in new laws mandating a DCFS audit and the appointment of an inspector general for the agency.

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