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Fla. Misses Deadline to Locate Kids

June 8, 2002

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ A state agency that supervises foster children has not been able to contact 969 children under its care, missing a May 31 deadline, officials said.

Gov. Jeb Bush in April ordered the state Department of Children & Families to visit or contact each of the 46,403 children under state supervision by May 31.

His order followed the disappearance of 5-year-old Rilya Wilson, a child under state care who was missing for 15 months before state officials noticed.

By May 31, the agency still had not found 1,237 children and on Friday said that 969 children, or about 2 percent of those in state care, had not been found. The agency is supposed to visit the children every month.

The agency classified most of those children who had not been contacted as runaways, abducted by relatives or living in other states.

Officials said they are still trying to visit some of the children, including 421 who have been placed out of state.

``It’s a number we’re not happy with,″ said DCF spokeswoman Alia Faraj. ``But it’s a step forward. It’s a huge effort.″

A message left with DCF officials was not immediately returned Saturday.

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