In 1983, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed May 25 as National Missing Children's Day. Each year, the Department of Justice (DOJ) commemorates Missing Children's Day with a ceremony honoring the heroic and exemplary efforts of agencies, organizations, and individuals to protect children.
Missing Children’s Day is dedicated to encouraging parents, guardians, caregivers, and others concerned with the well-being of children to make child safety a priority. It serves as a reminder to continue our efforts to reunite missing children with their families and an occasion to honor those dedicated to this cause.
2019 National Missing Children's Day ceremony, hosted by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), will be held on May 22, 2019. With an annual theme of "Bringing Our Missing Children Home," OJJDP invites fifth graders each year to participate in the Missing Children's Day poster contest. The annual contest creates an opportunity for schools, law enforcement, and child advocates to discuss the issue of missing and/or exploited children with youth, parents, and guardians and to promote child safety.
Each state hosts its own local poster competition, and the winning poster from each state is submitted to OJJDP for selection as the national winner. OJJDP invites the winning child, his/her teacher, parents and state clearinghouse manager to Washington, DC to participate in the National Missing Children's Day commemoration in May. The winning poster is the inspiration for the National Missing Children's Day poster and artwork for the following year.
Contest Submission Information
OJJDP's Missing and Exploited Children's Training and Technical Assistance Program collaborates with OJJDP to coordinate the poster contest and ceremony. Contest rules, contact information for state contest managers, discussion materials, and additional information are available. Prospective participants should check with their state contest manager for the state submission deadline. The national deadline for states to submit their winning poster is March 5, 2019.
The winner of the 2018 National Missing children's Day poster contest was Eden Hoffmann from Huron Elementary School in Clinton Township, Michigan. In 2018, fifth graders from 37 states submitted winning artwork from their state to this annual poster contest.
Each year, the U.S. Department of Justice, through OJJDP, recognizes individuals, organizations, and agencies that have made a difference in recovering missing and abducted children and protecting children from exploitation.
The Department recognizes the awardees each May at the annual National Missing Children's Day ceremony in Washington, DC. During the ceremony, these awards will be given for the following:
To learn more about the award recipients and their efforts, access the Department of Justice news release.
OJJDP Rocks One Sock
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, funded by OJJDP, encourages citizens to Rock One Sock each May to increase public awareness of missing children.
Watch the Rock One Sock Video
2015 Commemorative Stamp
In May 2015, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) issued a Forget-Me-Not stamp to increase public awareness of missing children and ways in which members of the public can assist in search efforts.
The stamp shows a group of purple forget-me-nots along with a lone flower and features the words "Forget-Me-Not" and "Help Find Missing Children."
Access OJJDP publications and resources available on missing children. Learn more about the OJJDP-supported AMBER Alert system, help available for families, and OJJDP's partnership with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.