As we start the new year it is important for us to look back at 2020 and some of the lessons we learned on how to continue the critical mission of recovering the endangered missing and abducted child, despite the obstacles thrown at us by man or nature.
As our partners at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) recently reported, we have now seen 1,029 successful recoveries: (87 due to WEA) directly related to the AMBER Alert system. Over 20 children were safely recovered and returned to their families in 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, further proof that those on the frontlines of protecting America’s children cannot and will not be deterred in their mission, regardless of the obstacles they face.
2020 certainly made its impact on the AATTAP and how we do business. For obvious reasons, in person training, conferences and meetings were impacted early on. For a program that has provided in person training for tens of thousands of child protection officials over the last 16 years, this required a change in how we do business. Regional Meetings and technical assistance visits were conducted online while we shifted to a new way of delivering training with virtual-instructor lead training. This shift in delivery methods required an incredible amount of work behind the scenes.
While we wanted to provide training to the field, we insisted that the quality of training could not suffer from the change in formats. This required developing new curriculum, determining what could be done virtually and what simply must be taught in person and then pushing these resources out in a format that the field could make the most efficient use of. This effort was led by Byron Fassett, AATTAP Program Manager and an incredible staff of eLearning experts, Administrative staff and associates who made up the core of subject matter experts tasked with creating a new way of providing training and tools to the field. The outcomes where outstanding.
As these new classes are approved for delivery, we have seen rosters fill quickly, with waiting list and request for more training topics. Our team will keep developing and refining these new learning options while preparing for the time that we can get back into the classroom.
As we move forward into 2021, we commit to providing an array of resources for those of you on the front lines. From new training offerings in varied formats to publications and “Best Practice” guides for the field. Take a look at some of the most recent publications designed to help you do your work by visiting our best practice resources on the AMBER Advocate website, and by visiting AMBER’s resource listing at NCJTC.org.
Our AMBER in Indian Country (AIIC) team continues the work of implementing the Ashlynne AMBER Alert in Indian Country Act of 2018 and facilitating the integration of tribal communities in their State and Regional AMBER Alert plans. By facilitating State-Tribal meetings on implementation, providing technology and resources to tribes and through community awareness events, we have seen over 100 new tribes participating in the AMBER Alert program over the last year. This team will keep pushing until all tribes that wish to be part of the system, have that ability.
Finally, the AATTAP team will continue the behind the scenes work of working with surviving family members and victims of child abductions and exploitation to support their input on the training we provide and to ensure that their sacrifices and contributions remain an integral part of everything we do. In the final analysis, they are why we are all here, working to improve the way we all do what we do to safely recover the abducted children.
Jim Walters, Program Administrator
AMBER Alert Training and Technical Assistance Program, National Criminal Justice Training Center
(877) 712-6237 | firstname.lastname@example.org