COOK COUNTY, IL – The Cook County Sheriff’s Police Child Rescue Unit (CRU) commemorated its 10th anniversary after finding more than 1,100 missing children.
Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart created the unit in 2012 to dedicate time and effort to search for missing youth in the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. At the time, no police agencies were focused on finding such youth, who too often become the victims of trafficking, drugs, violence, and other forms of abuse.
Since its inception, the dedicated unit has found 1,158 children declared missing from the foster care system. Of those, 135 were found this year. Twenty five children were under the age of 10 and another 18 were aged 11 to 13. CRU has also located seven families.
“Each of these children should receive the same attention and care as any other child who goes missing,” said Sheriff Dart. “On the streets they are preyed upon by traffickers and others with criminal intent. We are so proud of the children we have helped find, but sadly there is so much more work to do.”
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) reports 19 percent of the children who were reported missing from social services nationwide in 2020 were likely victims of child sex trafficking.
Currently, there are more than 100 missing youths in DCFS care with outstanding judicial orders to find them.
In 2016, the CRU partnered with DCFS child welfare specialists to locate missing youth in care – a first-of-its-kind unit in the state. 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.
To contact the CRU please call 312-433-6301 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.