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Frederica Wilson's bill would boost protections for foster kids

Each year on Sept. 29, U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami, throws a rememberance party on the birthday of Rilya Wilson, the 4-year-old who went missing in her district in 2001.

Tuesday, Wilson introduced a bill named the "Rilya Wilson Act." It's designed to protect foster children and to ensure  every state has a procedure in place to promptly report their disappearance. The bill has 109 original co-sponsors of both parties, Wilson's office said.

"To this day, I have not forgotten," Wilson said. "We must do better. We must protect foster children just as we would our own children." 

Rilya's foster mother, Geralyn Graham, continued to collect payments from the Florida Department of Children and Families for 15 months after the girl's disappearance, during which time the agency never knew her whereabouts. When it was discovered, it took a full week to report her missing to local authorities. Rilya has never been found.

The bill requires state child welfare agencies to report information on missing or abducted foster children promptly to local law enforcement agencies so that disappearances can then be reported to the National Crime Information Center.

It also adds a requirement that local enforcement agencies must submit a recent photograph requirement to NCIC. Currently, only submission of a child’s name, date of birth, sex, race, height, weight, eye color, hair color, and  medical and dental records 'whenever possible' are required.

It also ensures that state law enforcement agencies notify the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children of each report received relating to missing children from foster care.

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