This section contains information about how IPAWS is being used to notify the public about child abductions and resources for children to learn more about public alerts and warnings.
It is important that children, as well as adults, understand the functions of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), and how to appropriately respond to alerts and warnings. The IPAWS Program Management Office (PMO) partners with organizations in an effort to keep children safe and teach them about emergency preparedness.
AMBER Alert Program
When a child goes missing, rapid and effective public alerts often play a crucial role in returning that child to safety. For this reason, the IPAWS PMO has partnered with the Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to ensure that life-saving AMBER Alerts can be disseminated to as many people as possible.
The AMBER Alert Program, also known as America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response Plan, is a voluntary partnership between law enforcement agencies, broadcasters, and transportation agencies to activate an urgent bulletin in the most serious child-abduction cases. The goal of an AMBER Alert is to instantly enable the entire community to assist in the search for and safe recovery of the child.
When law enforcement has been notified about an abducted child, they determine whether the case meets their AMBER Alert program’s criteria. If it does, alert information is assembled, including: descriptions and pictures of the missing child, the suspected abductor, and suspected vehicle, along with any other information available and valuable to identifying the child and suspect.
Historically, this information has been disseminated through the Emergency Alert System (EAS), which leverages the communication support of radio, television, cable, and satellite providers (EAS participants) and NOAA Weather Radio. In addition, AMBER Alerts may now also be disseminated via Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA). Localities may also use digital signage or other alerting technologies if they are available.
Ready.gov Website and Activities for Kids
The IPAWS PMO, in partnership with Ready.gov, has created public education products that provide up-to-date information about how to prepare for emergencies. The www.ready.gov/kids webpage provides information about WEAs and other age appropriate guidance. The IPAWS PMO and Ready.gov also created a WEA Fact Sheet and Word Search for Kids with accompanying instructional materials for parents, teachers, and other educators.
The Pillowcase Project
The IPAWS PMO is also partnering with The American Red Cross on The Pillowcase Project, an in-school and after-school program designed to teach third graders and their families how to prepare for disasters.
The Pillowcase Project curriculum follows three essential teaching steps: learn, practice, and share. Students learn how to prepare for emergencies, enhance coping skills, practice what they have learned, and share their knowledge with friends and family. The program encourages students to create their own emergency supplies kit by packing essential items in a pillowcase—a common household item—for easy transport during an emergency. Students also have the opportunity to decorate and personalize their pillowcases. The goal of the program is to incorporate preparedness education into elementary school and after-school curriculums nationwide.