Kid Finders out of money as missing children’s non-profits struggle to survive in Florida
There was an article in the Orlando Sentinel today titled “Hope, help, fade for the missing.” written by Amy L Edwards, staff writer. The purpose of the article was to bring attention to the many many non-profit organizations working to find the missing. (nearly 47,000 children reported missing in Florida just last year. Can you believe that? Wow.) This was a really good and informative piece–until it turned into an ad for Kid Finders and The Caylee Marie Anthony Foundation. (No, I’m not kidding.)
The writer started the article with the news of the recent disbanding of, Child Protection Education of America, a non-profit started 20 years ago by the mother of Tiffany Sessions, a 2o year old that disappeared from the University of Florida. It closed down due to lack of funds. It joined another long-standing nonprofit, Missing Children Center, who also recently closed their doors.
“It’s heartbreaking I couldn’t keep the charity alive,” Hilary Sessions said. “It’s disheartening that we are not going to be able to help all of these families who really depended upon us.”
The article goes on to say that there are legit and some not-so legit organizations claiming to help search for missing children. The Association of Missing and Exploited Children’s Organizations–made up of nonprofits in the US and Canada who provide help to these children’s families with various services has strict requirements before an organization can become a member. It was a shocker to me that there are only TWO Florida nonprofits among their members: A Child is Missing and the Jimmy Ryce Center for Victims of Predatory Abduction. TWO out of an unknown (I suspect, large) number of groups claiming to exist only to serve the needs of families of missing and exploited children. (How many of these organizations are there in Florida–anybody know or want to venture a guess?)
Apparently, one of the basic problems with the non-profits is that any Tom Dick or Harry can start one. There are no job requirements, and because of that many–even the well-intentioned ones–don’t have the business knowledge necessary to run a successful nonprofit.
“They’ll set up a foundation …, and the money is generally wasted,” said Sherry Friedlander, executive director of the successful, A Child Is Missing.
AND THEN THE AD BEGAN: (I had an uneasy feeling as to where this whole thing was going when Kid Finders and Texas EquuSearch were mentioned in the same sentence early on in the article)
Sherri and Dennis Milstead, founders of Kid Finders Network, learned it first-hand. After the Milsteads volunteered in Caylee’s case and featured her photo on their mobile billboard, the couple received harsh criticism.
“We took such a beating from the case in Orlando, it really put a hurting on us,” Sherri Milstead said. “We’re still being trashed over it.”
Today the Milsteads’ billboards are parked. Kid Finders, she said, doesn’t have any money.
Several months after Caylee was reported missing, her family organized a foundation in her name.
Caylee’s grandparents, George and Cindy Anthony, said they launched their nonprofit to help families understand their rights and provide them with information on the resources available to them.
“We basically had to figure out on our own what to do,” the Anthonys said via an e-mailed statement. “There is so much going on that they do not know what to do or who to trust. We had no idea what community resources were available to us, or what our rights were.”
The Anthonys’ goal is to help families get emotional, financial and spiritual help.
Ugh. I think I’m going to go throw up now.
You can read the article here:
The author of this article, Amy L. Edwards, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-420-5735.