Louisiana officials said Friday they have taken custody of 50 children who were separated from their parents in the chaos of Hurricane Katrina.
The state is searching for their families and in the interim is caring for the children at various sites.
“We have 50 children right now that we do not have a solid enough lead on to be certain we’re going to make a match with a parent,” Marketa Garner Gautreau, assistant secretary of the state’s social services department, said at a briefing.
In addition, she said there are 500 foster children whose locations the state is trying to confirm.
“We have 500 children that are in the state’s custody that are in foster care that I can not tell you ‘Tommy is in Lake Charles in this location,”’ she said.
Gautreau said as of midday Thursday, there were 1,988 reports of children missing with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children but those numbers can be inflated, since anyone can report a child missing, even if the child is with a proper custodial parent.
“The number of thousands of missing children, if you’re getting them from that national center, is not necessarily the number of human bodies we have had and touched in our shelters,” Gautreau said. “There are just not 1,988 kids out there without an adult.”