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Update: Program lets parents check on kids after school | News

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Update: Program lets parents check on kids after school

Sue Oliver is never late picking up her grandkids from school in Hot Springs.

She explains, "My kids and my grandkids are my life."

There are sex offenders who live nearby and Oliver fears her little ones could be kidnapped. She says she makes safety her number one priority. "You always have people walking around the neighborhood that does not belong and I always watched out for other people's kids too."

Lt. James Martin with the Garland County Sheriff's Department knows other parents though work late and can't be home when their child gets off the bus.

He explains, "Most parents are having to work now a days. We don't have as many stay at home parents as we used to have and everybody has to work so I figure probably the majority of kids are going home alone."

So they've started an After School Safety Check program, the only one of its kind in Arkansas.

A phone system calls your child on the days and times you designate.

Martin adds, "There is a pre-recorded message that they will get when they answer the phone and they have to actually input using the numeric keypad a response to the question."

If your child doesn't answer the phone then the system will automatically contact you. The system can notify up to three numbers.

The free service is paid for through county fines. It's a program Oliver appreciates, knowing there are safety checks available just in case her grandkids are ever home alone.

"They don't know who they can and can't trust, so it would give them peace of mind," she says.

Here are the only requirements:

-You live in Garland County (which includes the city limits), and;
-You must have a touch-tone telephone. 

If the call is not answered or acknowledged, our system will automatically call you and/or send you an email alert.

The Garland County Sheriff's Department says they must stress to parents that they will not be able to send units to check on your children. This system is designed as a tool to assist you and to contact you if your child does not answer the phone after school. The sheriff's office says if they do not answer, it is your responsibility to check on them.

The time can be set in five minute intervals, such as 3:30, 3:35 and so on, up until 8:00 p.m. 

The call your child receives will be a recorded voice and it will simply ask them to push number 1 on the phone keypad if they are okay.

If they respond that everything is OK, no further action is taken. If there is no answer, the system is put into action. Several things happen simultaneously at this point.

-Your 1st Contact Number is called and informs you that the child has not answered.
-Your 2nd Contact Number is called (if #1 was unanswered).
-Your 3rd Contact Number is called (if #1 and #2 was unanswered).
-An email is sent informing you that the call went unanswered.
With multiple phone lines and digital technology...... this all takes place within seconds!

To get your child enrolled in this free service simply fill in the Registration Form, and submit it.

Source: Garland Co. Sheriff's Dept.