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Wyoming Department Of Family Services Will Be In Full Force For Eclipse

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You think it’s scary when your kids, or parents as the case may be, go missing among thousands of people at the fair.

Now consider what happens when tens of thousands of visitors travel to Casper for the eclipse on Aug. 21 where they don’t recognize landmarks and are attending events in an unfamiliar city.

And they get separated from their family members.

The Wyoming Department of Family Services will be there to help.

“If they have kids, we have a place for them; keep them safe,” said Paul Fritzler, manager of its Casper office.

Last Thursday, more than a dozen local and state agencies — police and fire departments to name a few — and their representatives said they’re ready for the eclipse.

So is DFS.

“What we’ve done is to put all our staff on, full time, that day,” Fritzler said. “We have extra on-call people on call 24 hours a day.”

DFS will work with law enforcement to handle simple, albeit nerve-wracking, cases of families that get separated in the crowds, he said.

The simplest thing such as families separated in the crowd —  missing children, or as the case may be, missing parents.

Fritzler urges eclipse watcher families to have a plan, such as setting up a communication system and identifying a place in the area, such as a first-aid station, where to go if family members are separated.

On a more serious level, the DFS will be watching for sex trafficking. The Cheyenne Police Department already has issued a warning about it.

The Department of Family Services also will watch for children who may be abandoned by their parents during the event, Fritzler said.

“Also, we put a special team of foster parents together, so that we would have people available anytime from Thursday (Aug. 17) through Tuesday (Aug. 22)  that would be able to take care of kids during that time where for some reason they’re separated from their parents, whether it’s a legal issue or parents can’t be found,” he said.

Likewise, if parents or guardians are in the a dispute, law enforcement officers would call DFS staff to take over the situation so they could respond to other calls, Fritzler said. “So we want to make sure that we’re backing them up; we have a way to communicate with them.”

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