Division of Criminal Justice Services

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For Immediate Release: 3/19/2020

Janine Kava | janine.kava@dcjs.ny.gov
(518) 457-8906 | (518) 275-5508 
Press Office, New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services

Fifth-grade pupil from Brooklyn wins New York’s Missing Children’s Day Poster Contest

Ashley Rosario’s poster will represent New York State in national contest

All New York State entries will be displayed in Albany the week of May 25, which is marked nationally as Missing Children’s Day

POYA photo
Ashley Rosario’s first-place poster, which is representing New York State in the National Missing Children's Day Poster Contest, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice.
POYA photo
First-place winner Ashley Rosario and her teachers Claudia Gonzalez and Ashlyn Roberto.

The image drawn by 10-year-old Ashley Rosario is sparse, with just a hint of color. A girl sits against a wall, head bowed in arms that clutch her legs. The words on each side of the girl offer insight into her conflicted emotions.

“How can I come back?” on one side. “I need my family!” on the other.

Ashley’s drawing is featured on a poster chosen as this year’s winner of New York’s contest to select the state’s entry in the National Missing Children Day’s Poster Contest, a competition for fifth graders sponsored annually by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). New York and other states coordinate their own contests, then the state winners compete against each other in the national competition. The winner of the national contest will be announced in April and the poster will be used to promote National Missing Children’s Day 2020.

In describing her poster, Ashley, a fifth-grade pupil at PS/IS192 in Brooklyn, wrote, “My poster is about a girl that is sitting next to a wall crying because she does not know how to go back home. I created this poster because this girl shows how someone that is lost would feel.”

The New York State Missing Persons Clearinghouse, which is located at the state Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), sponsored the state’s contest and received 253 submissions, of which 186 met the criteria for the contest. Clearinghouse staff narrowed the qualifying entries to 30 for review by three judges, who evaluated the submissions without knowing the students’ names or schools they attend: Michael C. Green, executive deputy commissioner of the Division of Criminal Justice Services; Investigator Nichole Weston with the New York State Police Special Victims Unit; and Mary Lyall, whose daughter, Suzanne, has been missing since 1998, when she was a student at the University at Albany.

DCJS Executive Deputy Commissioner Green said, “In New York State, the vast majority of children who go missing annually are classified as runaways. Ashley’s poster resonated with the judges because it captured not only the sadness of being alone, but the anxiety and fear about returning home. All of the entries were phenomenal, but hers really stood out and was the unanimous choice for first place. Every student who participated in this year’s contest should be commended for lending their talents to raise awareness of such an important issue.”

The judges also selected second- and third-place winners: Wing Yan Tan from PS/IS 49 in Queens, and Jayleen Pagan, from STEM PS 241 in Manhattan. The three winning posters and all other qualifying entries will be on display at the Empire State Plaza Concourse in Albany during the week of May 25, which is National Missing Children’s Day

May 25 was designated National Missing Children’s Day in 1983. On that date four years earlier, 6-year-old Etan Patz vanished in New York City. The boy’s disappearance gained wide publicity and created a groundswell of attention to the plight of missing children. A New Jersey man is serving a life sentence after being convicted of Patz’s kidnapping and murder.

The state and national poster competitions are designed to raise awareness and educate the public about unresolved missing children cases. In 2019, there were 13,632 children reported missing across New York State, a 7 percent decrease when compared to the number reported in 2018. Of those, 95 percent were reported as runaways. While the overwhelming majority returned home, 979 children were still missing at the end of last year.

The Missing Persons Clearinghouse assists law enforcement agencies by providing training, case management guidance and investigative support, such as publicizing missing children cases. It also administers the state’s Missing Child Alerts, which are activated when a case involving a missing child under the age of 21 doesn’t meet AMBER Alert criteria.

New Yorkers can register with New York Alert to receive notifications whenever Missing Child, AMBER, Missing College Student, or Missing Vulnerable Adult alerts are activated. Anyone with an existing New York Alert account can update their profile to receive these alerts.

The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services is a multi-function criminal justice support agency with a variety of responsibilities, including law enforcement training; collection and analysis of statewide crime data; maintenance of criminal history information and fingerprint files; administrative oversight of the state’s DNA databank, in partnership with the New York State Police; funding and oversight of probation and community correction programs; administration of federal and state criminal justice funds; support of criminal justice-related agencies across the state; and administration of the state’s Sex Offender Registry.