Building Solutions. Supporting Communities. Advancing Justice.
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Working for Youth Justice and Safety
Multimedia Use Home
skip navigationAbout OJJDPE-NewsOJJDP resources organized topicallyFundingProgramsState representatives and organizations that administer OJJDP programsPublicationsOJJDP Research and StatisticsOJJDP conferences, teleconferences, and juvenile justice-related eventsMissing Children's DayToolsHome
   Home > National Missing Children's Day

     National Missing Children's Day

About National Missing Children's Day

2019 Missing Children's Day Logo. Bringing Our Missing Children Home Safely

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 Missing Children's Day Ceremony

About the annual Ceremony

The Department of Justice's 2019 commemoration of National Missing Children's Day took place on May 22, 2019, in Washington, DC. The annual event, organized by OJJDP, honors the memory of missing children and recognizes extraordinary efforts made by law enforcement personnel and private citizens to protect children from harm.

2019 Award Ceremony

During 2019 Missing Children's Day Ceremony, awards were given for the following:

To learn more about the award recipients and their efforts, access the Department of Justice news release.


The U.S. Department of Justice live-streamed the National Missing Children's Day ceremony honoring the heroic and exemplary efforts of agencies, organizations, and individuals to protect children. Watch a video recording of the 2019 ceremony at the top of this page or here.

"Help Complete the house by bringing our missing children home" features a red house with puzzle pieces placed on the outside featuring names of well-known survivors of abduction. Puzzle pieces surrounding the house feature the number of missing children for each state.

2019 National Missing Children's Day Poster Contest Winner: is Madison Dozier, Reiley Elementary School in Alexandria, Kentucky.

Winning Poster

The winner of the 2019 National Missing children's Day poster contest is Madison Dozier from Reiley Elementary School in Alexandria, Kentucky. In 2019, fifth graders from 33 states submitted winning artwork from their state to this annual poster contest.

2019 Poster Contest

About the Contest

The winner of the National Missing Children's Day Poster Contest was also recognized at the ceremony. The contest is intended to promote awareness and encourage teachers, parents, guardians, and other adults to engage children in discussions about safety.

2019 National Missing Children's Day ceremony, hosted by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), was 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 was March 5, 2019.

Previous Winners

View National Missing Children's Day posters from previous years dating back to 2000.

Previous contest winner Rachel Stevenson's poster.

Hear from a Previous Winner

View the video at the left to learn about the history of the National Missing Children's Day poster contest, the importance of having students participate, and how to get involved.

The 2007 winner, Rachel Stevenson, shares her experiences on winning the contest and expresses why she believes it is important to raise awareness for missing children's issues.

View the video transcript or download the video:


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:

The deadline for nominations was January 23, 2019.

Runaway Train 25

In the 1990s, Soul Asylum's "Runaway Train" music video featured images of missing children and helped recover 21 of the featured children. For the 25th anniversary, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) reimagined "Runaway Train" with new artists and created a first-of-its-kind music video.

Knowing that more than half of recovered children are found in the state in which they are missing from, NCMEC used today's technology to present images of children missing from the area in which the video is being watched.

Visit the Runaway Train 25 website to watch the music video and learn more about the campaign. Also see the NCMEC Search for Missing Children page to conduct your own search of currently missing children.

2015 Commemorative Stamp

Forget-Me-Not 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.

Missing and Exploited Children In Focus Page

Connect With OJJDP

Stay Connected with OJJDPStay Connected with OJJDP to receive updates on the National Missing Children's Day Awards, poster contest and events by subscribing to the JUVJUST listserv, the bimonthly online newsletter OJJDP News @ a Glance, or follow OJJDP on Twitter, Facebook or YouTube.