COOK COUNTY, IL – The Cook County Sheriff’s Police Child Rescue Unit (CRU) located its 1,000th missing youth in care on Wednesday, announced Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart.
“Youth in the state’s care who are missing are extremely vulnerable to trafficking, drugs and violence,” said Sheriff Dart. “We must do everything in our power to try and locate them, protect them and help them succeed in life. They are our children too.”
Sheriff Dart created a specialized unit in 2012 to look for missing youth in the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services as he also called for a state audit into how the agency was handling missing and abducted children. The results of that audit revealed that previous DCFS administrations often failed to report missing youth in a timely manner and sometimes missing youth were not reported at all.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children reports one in six endangered runways in America to be likely sex trafficking victims. As of May 25, there were more than 150 missing youth in care with outstanding judicial orders to find them.
In 2016, DCFS child welfare specialists began partnering with Sheriff’s Police under the Child Rescue Unit to locate missing youth in care – a first-of-its-kind unit in the state to address the problem. The CRU also assists the Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center to locate missing youth and provides human trafficking awareness training to social services agencies throughout the county.
The most recent youth in care located by the CRU were two girls, ages 11 and 15, found in Chicago.
The CRU can be reached at CCSO.CRU@CCSHERIFF.ORG or 312-433-6301.