The Our Missing Children Program and the Canada Border Services Agency
The Canada Border Services Agency's (CBSA) involvement in the Our Missing Children program dates back to 1986. Since then, CBSA officers have helped reunite over 1,700 missing and abducted children with their parents or legal guardians.
CBSA officers pay extra attention to children as they enter Canada. Recognizing which children have a valid reason to accompany adult travellers is an essential aspect of the program. This additional attention helps to ensure children's safety.
To avoid delays at Canadian border crossings, travellers should consider this advice:
- All adults should carry identification for the children travelling with them, regardless of the children's ages.
- The CBSA suggests identification such as a birth certificate, baptismal certificate, passport or immigration document. If none of these are available, get a letter stating that you are the child's parent or guardian from your doctor or lawyer, or from the hospital where the child was born.
- Parents who share custody of their children should carry copies of the legal custody documents.
- Any adult who is not a parent or guardian should have written permission from the parent or guardian, as well as the child's identification. A letter would also facilitate entry for any one parent travelling with their children. This permission letter should have addresses and telephone numbers of where the parent or guardian can be reached.
- When travelling in a group of vehicles, the parent or guardian should be in the same vehicle as his or her children when arriving at the border.
The program also has a toll-free number for information on missing children: 1-877-318-3576.
General safety advice
- Never leave children unattended.
- Discuss scenarios with your children. Teach them what to do if they get lost in shopping malls, busy streets or other crowded areas.
- Keep up-to-date photos of your children — school photos are best. You may want to have some kind of identification kit.
- Have your children fingerprinted. Your local police force can tell you which agencies in your area offer this service.
- Have your children memorize your home or office telephone number and teach them how to reach you by phone.
- Teach your children how to use the 9-1-1 telephone service in case of emergency.
- Explain to your children that they should refuse invitations to enter the vehicles or homes of strangers. Discourage your children from taking anything from strangers unless you approve.
- If you are separated or divorced, let your children's school administrators know about visitation rights. For example, tell the administrators whether your ex-spouse is allowed to pick up the children. You should also ensure that school bus drivers are notified.
For more information, consult the Our Missing Children's Web site at
www.ourmissingchildren.gc.ca or the CBSA's Web site.
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