Child Identification Program

Summary of Items | Brief Description | Detailed Description |FAQ's Pilot Project Survey
Sampling Procedure | 'FTA' Cards | Hospitals | County Health Departments

The Child Identification Program (Ch*I*P) is designed to give parents or guardians another tool at their disposal should their child disappear or is a victim of a natural disaster or accident, and law enforcement is called in to investigate such an unfortunate case. If a child is abducted and moved to various locations, this sample may be useful for placing the child at each site and helpful in convicting the perpetrator. The DNA does not need to be analyzed unless it is necessary for investigative purposes, at which point, law enforcement will analyze it free of charge.

This voluntary program is fairly simple to administer. Blood is drawn from the heel of a baby upon birth, and is placed on a specially treated paper to bond the baby's DNA to the paper. This paper is then placed into a foil envelope and given directly to the parent or guardian. The procedure is the same for older children, except that the blood is drawn by a simple prick of the finger. The procedure can be done for older children at a participating county health department. Neither the hospitals, county health departments, nor the Florida Department of Law Enforcement or any other law enforcement agencies will keep any records or samples. Only the parent or guardian will have access to the blood sample.

In 1998, the Ch*I*P was introduced to all the hospitals in Florida with birthing centers. The following links will provide more information on the Ch*I*P. If you are interested in implementing the Ch*I*P in your hospital, or county health department, please contact the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Missing Children Information Clearinghouse at 1-888-356-4774.

Summary of Items Available on this Site

Provided below are brief summaries of each item available on this website. A great deal of thought, time, and energy have gone into the development of the Ch*I*P project. It is our preference that the same materials be used by everyone electing to participate in the Ch*I*P. 
  • Brief Program Descripton for Parents or Guardians:
    This one-page document provides a brief explanation of Ch*I*P for parents. We suggest that this be given to the parent or guardian at the time the service is offered since it is short enough to read quickly.
  • Detailed Program Description:
    This document provides a more in-depth explanation of the program. It can be used as an aid for staff in hospitals, county health departments, schools, or for parents who desire a more detailed explanation of the program.
  • Pilot Project Survey Results:
    To document parental response to Ch*I*P, Tallahassee Memorial Hospital surveyed approximately 315 new parents. The results of the survey were overwhelmingly positive. The survey questions and results are included, along with a typed list of comments made by parents.
  • Example of DNA Bloodstain Sampling Procedure:
    The Tallahassee Memorial Hospital developed a brief sampling protocol for use with the Ch*I*P project. This protocol is included as an example of the type of protocol that other entities may wish to use if they elect to participate in the Ch*I*P program.

Brief Description of Program

What is the Ch*I*P?
The Child Identification Program (Ch*I*P) gives parents or guardians the option of having their child's blood drawn. In the event of your child's disappearance or involvement in an accident or natural disaster, his or her DNA would be available from the blood sample, to law enforcement for identification purposes. There is no need to have the blood analyzed unless required, at which point, law enforcement will do so free of charge.

How is the sample taken?
All that is required is a small needle prick of your newborn baby's heel or your child's finger to obtain a drop of blood. The blood is spotted onto special filter paper. The sample is then placed in a special envelope, sealed, and given directly to you for safekeeping.

What should I do with the sample?
Only you, the parent or guardian, has this sample. We recommend that you place the sample in a safe, dry place. Once sealed, this pouch should not be opened unless DNA testing needs to be done. Exposure to air and light can cause the DNA in the bloodstain to break down. Although the sample may be kept sealed at room temperature, you may consider keeping it in your freezer for the best possible storage conditions.

How long does the sample last?
Your child's DNA will not change over the course of his or her life. If the pouch remains sealed, the sample should last for many, many years.

Detailed Program Description

The Ch*I*P gives parents or guardians the option of having their child's blood sample available in an emergency. In the event of your child's disappearance, his or her DNA would be available, from that blood sample, to law enforcement. In addition to providing information in the case of kidnappings or parental abductions, the sample could help with identification in cases of accidents or natural disasters.

This concept is similar to programs in which children are fingerprinted. Storing a blood sample taken from your child allows you to have one more piece of information you could give to law enforcement in the event of an accident or the disappearance of your child. In a situation as terrifying as a missing child, you would want to provide all the information you possibly could. Participation in the Ch*I*P allows you, the parent or guardian, to store your child's blood sample from which DNA could be taken when required. By storing the blood sample yourself, you can be best assured that no one else will have access to it.

Please be advised, this is only a blood sample. The blood sample DOES NOT need to be analyzed for DNA unless it is required for investigative purposes. If analysis is required, law enforcement will do it free of charge.

In addition, a new type of paper used for collection of bloodstains has recently been developed. This new paper, dubbed "FTA" paper, has been specially treated to help the DNA bind to the paper. The use of FTA paper should make storage of samples safer and less likely to break down.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What is DNA?
Answer: DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid. It is often referred to as the building block of life. DNA contains the genetic information that makes each human unique. With the exception of identical twins, everyone's DNA is different.

Question: What is involved in the DNA collection process?
Answer: All that is required is a small needle prick of your newborn baby's heel or your child's finger. This will allow a few drops of blood to be obtained from your child and placed on the special stain card.

Question: An inked footprint was taken from my baby at birth. Isn't that a good method of identification?
Answer: An inked footprint could be useful in identifying an infant who was abducted shortly after birth and then quickly recovered. In most cases, the tiny feet of newborns are full of creases and wrinkles. As a baby grows, these creases and wrinkles will decrease and the details of the footprint ridges will become more prominent. Because of these changes, the footprints taken at birth might not be useful in identifying an older child. Having a blood sample could be a valuable addition to identification efforts.

Question: I thought DNA could be obtained from saliva. Why is it necessary to use blood?
Answer: DNA test results can be obtained from saliva. However, for purposes of long-term storage, blood is the best option. The normal bacteria found in the mouth can cause the DNA in the saliva to break down over time. By storing a blood sample, you significantly reduce the possibility that the sample may be too broken down to perform DNA testing.

Question: Who else has access to this blood sample?
Answer: No one except you. Only one blood sample will be taken and this sample will be given to the parent or guardian for storage and safekeeping. Neither your local hospital, county health department, school, nor the Florida Department of Law Enforcement or any other law enforcement agency has access to the blood sample obtained for the purposes of the Ch*I*P. Keep it in a safe place.

Question: What purpose would a DNA blood sample serve if my child were missing?
Answer: It is important to understand that just having a DNA blood sample does not keep your child safe. In the event of a child's disappearance, however, the DNA sample you have stored could be useful to law enforcement or disaster relief officials for purposes of comparison.

Question: Must DNA testing be done at the time the blood sample is taken from my child?
Answer: No. It is not necessary to perform DNA testing at this time. This blood sample is only a method of keeping a sample of your child's DNA available in the case of an emergency.

Question: Why shouldn't DNA testing be done at the time the blood sample is taken from my child?
Answer: Your child's DNA will not change over the course of his or her lifetime. DNA testing methods, however, are changing rapidly. The type of test performed today might be completely obsolete a few years from now. By storing the blood-stain card without analyzing it, you can be certain that the best technology in place at the time of need would be available.

Tallahassee Memorial Regional Medical Center Ch*I*P Pilot Project Survey and Results

Dear New Parent,
Thank you for participating in the Child Identification Pilot Program. In order to assess the effectiveness of the program, we would ask that you answer the following questions.
  Agree Disagree Unsure N/A
1. I believe the Child Identification Program is a valuable program for my family. 279 3 12 1
2. I am not concerned about a DNA blood sample being taken from my child.

2a: If you disagree with question 2, why?:*
254 28 8 5
3. I fully understand how a DNA blood sample could be important in the future should my child become missing. 289 1 3 2
4. I would participate in the Child Identification Program again if the program was offered on a voluntary basis and it was a free service. 268 11 13 3
5. I understand from the explanation given to me about the program that I am responsible. 291 1 3 0



Ch*I*P Survey Comments:

Question Number 2a:

Too much added unnecessary stress on baby.

I feel that this is a valuable service which would prove to be very helpful if needed.

Because you'll never know when things could go wrong and you might need for DNA assistance.

Everyone should be concerned.

I am very concerned about it, you should do it.

You never know what could happen.

I have no concerns as long as the information is only used for ID purposes.

I am concerned because if my child goes missing I will have a way of identifying him.

In case something was ever to happen to my child.

I wouldn't want the DNA sample used for any other purpose than that explained to me - for I.D.

I'm concerned in only/every form of identifying my child.

It is a minor stick of the heel and benefits easily outweigh discomfort.

In event something happened, it would be easier to identify the baby.

It is an easy way to keep up with your baby.

I feel it is a very good precautionary measure taken.

So if my baby becomes missing we can identify her.

I feel it is important for identifying my child if she should become missing.

Could it be used by government like social security numbers.

Question Number 5:

I think that it is an excellent idea. I wish there was a way to get other children born at TMH done also.


It is wonderful, every hospital should do it.

Very interesting program. Glad to be a part of it.

A wonderful program - would pay for it.

A little concerned with there being more than one copy if there is - but I really think it is a great idea.

The DNA sampling is a great service. If it stays free it will continue to be a great service! Thank you!

I am very glad that Tallahassee Memorial is participating in this program. I think that this is an invaluable program.

We are happy to be able to participate/take advantage of today's latest technology. Who knows what the future holds? it could prove to be very useful/helpful to us.

I have two other children that I would like to have DNA samples taken from.

I think this is a worthwhile program.

I think that it is a good form of tracking down a child in case they are missing.

I thank FDLE and TMRMC for making my son's welfare a little safer and secure.

I think this is a good thing to do because so many babies become missing every day.

Good program!

It would seem better if the hospital maintained a copy.

I think this is a terrific program and thank you for initiating its existence.

Example of DNA Bloodstain Sampling Procedure*

The sampling procedure outlined below is the one developed and used by Tallahassee Memorial Hospital during the initial Ch*I*P pilot project.

Purpose: To provide parent(s) or guardian(s) with a DNA sample from their child.

Equipment Needed: 
        Lancet FTA staincard Alcohol
  Foil storage pouch Adhesive bandage ChIP information sheet
  Cotton ball Desiccant Gloves

  • Give a brief description and brochure of the program to the parent. Be sure to obtain verbal permission to get the sample.
  • Important -- do not handle the FTA staincard unless you are wearing gloves. This will prevent contamination of the staincard with your DNA. 
  • Wearing gloves, write the child's name and DOB on the bottom of the FTA card and on the outside of the foil pouch.
  • Wearing gloves, perform the heel stick for newborn babies or fingerprick for children, wiping away the initial drop of blood.
  • Obtain at least one good drop of blood and place it in one of the circles outlined on the FTA paper. Multiple drops, one on top of the other, are to be avoided. Although filling all four circles is not necessary, more than one drop would be preferable.
  • Allow the blood to dry. Set the card up to dry in a triangular shape. This can be done by tucking the top flap under the FTA paper itself.
  • Put the card, along with the desiccant, into the foil pouch and seal.
  • Give the card to the parent(s).
  • Document on teaching sheet the date that the ChIP card was done. This will enable us to note whether or not the ChIP service was offered to the patient, if time of delivery was not appropriate. For infants in NBICU, blood samples may be obtained from the UAC or venous line, if available.

Handling the 'FTA' Cards


The 'FTA' cards that are being used for Ch*I*P are very sensitive and easily contaminated. The cards should only be handled by individuals who are wearing gloves. Otherwise, DNA in the skin cells from any ungloved person who touches the cards could unintentionally contaminate the card.

Once the staincard is sealed in the foil pouch, it is protected from contamination as long as the pouch remains sealed. The pouch should not be opened unless DNA analysis needs to be performed.
Hospitals Offering the ChIP
  • Broward General Medical Center, Ft. Lauderdale
  • Cape Canaveral Hospital, Cocoa Beach
  • Martin Memorial Health Systems, Stuart
  • North Florida Regional Medical Center, Gainesville
  • Orange Park Medical Center, Orange Park
  • Osceola Regional Medical Center, Kissimmee
  • Parrish Medical Center, Titusville
  • Pasco Community Hospital, Dade City
  • Plantation General Hospital, Plantation
  • Shands at Lake Shore Hospital, Lake City
  • Shands Hospital at U.F., Gainesville
  • St. Luke’s Hospital, Jacksonville
  • University Community Hospital, Tampa
  • Winter Haven Hospital, Winter Haven
  • Women’s Center of Martin County, Stuart

County Health Departments Offering the ChIP
  • Currently there are no county health departments offering the ChIP. If you are a county health department and wish to participate in the ChIP please contact MEPIC for procedures on how to make the program available to children of all ages in your area. If you have any questions or require more information, please contact the Missing Endangered Persons Information Clearinghouse at 1-888-356-4774.