Rilya Wilson Case Unlikely With New Technology

By Willard Shepard
|  Monday, Aug 16, 2010  |  Updated 3:05 PM EDT
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New Technology Helps Track Foster Kids

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405099 01: An undated photo of 5-year-old Rilya Wilson from a missing poster May 8, 2002 in Miami, FL. Wilson has been missing since January 2001 when someone claiming to work for the Florida Department of Children and Families (DFC) took her from her grandmother's home. The DFC reported her missing on April 25, 2002 and has no record of anyone taking her. (Photo courtesy of Miami-Dade Police Department/Getty Images)

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New Technology Helps Track Foster Kids

Social workers now take a picture of the kids they track and upload it to a database.
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"You going to smile for me?" Nancy Brun, a case manager for Our Kids private agency, asks as she snaps a shot of Andy with her cell phone.

Andy is just one of the 3,000 kids in South Florida foster care, and Brun is in charge of gathering their information -- the photo and her laptop computer being the key to their safety and security.

The photo is instantly uploaded into a hard drive and sent to supervisors to prove Andy is alive well and where he's supposed to be.

"You are able to go in the laptop into the system in Tallahasse, and Tallahasse will also say the child was here," Brun explained. "The child was safe and also see the picture of the child."

This process is exactly what didn't happen with Rilya Wilson. Geralyn Graham was given custody of Rilya, her grandaughter, when Rilya's mother couldn't get off drugs and her dad was in prison. The state says its own worker, who told them she was checking on the little girl, lied for 18 months and didn't go to Graham's South Dade home. Prosecutors say Graham is the killer.

"The tragedy of something like Rilya Wilson we never want to have that happen again," Francis Allegra, director of Our Kids program, said, "and isn't there some ready off-the-shelf technology that we can apply to this field to make kids safer and that was the genesis of the idea."

The pictures coming in give the name, exact location of the child from GPS tracking, and the time the picture was taken.

"We had one case where this one child was wearing the same T-shirt every day for a number of months," Allegra recalled. "When you can objectively see the last six months of pictures, you can see the child is going through a phase or there is something going wrong."
 

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