The first day of kindergarten was great, and Lisa couldn't wait to get home and tell her mother about it.

In her excitement, she got off the school bus one stop too soon and wandered for hours, crying as she searched for her home.Kind adults tried to help, but she didn't know her last name. Her mother's name, she said, was "Mama." Her father was "Daddy." And her address was "a green house with white shutters."

Like most children, she didn't carry any ID. She finally got home, but to this day she is too frightened to ride the bus.

There are literally thousands of stories about children who are lost, injured or even dead and the search to establish their identity.

Child Safe program offers protection to anyone who doesn't carry identification, from children to joggers to the elderly residents of nursing homes who sometimes wander away.

Child Safe registers children in a nationwide network that is accessed by a toll-free, 24-hour-a-day telephone number. The nominal two-year, $10 fee provides 50 iron-on tags that can be put into clothing. Each tag carries the 1-800 telephone number and the child's identification number.

It all started in Minneapolis when a 3-year-old girl was in an automobile accident with her father. He died and she waited in the emergency room for several hours until her mother could be reached. A program was set up that would not only provide identification of a child, but also information on how to reach trusted friends and relatives if the parents are not available.

"Child Safe has the complete endorsement of local police departments and the Utah Chiefs of Police Association," said regional director David R. Mickel. "And school districts love it. In Utah, we've introduced the program in districts that have 86 percent of the school children."

In honor of Kid Care Month, area Hardees Restaurants are registering children Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Part of the registration fee will be donated to Utah Special Olympics.

All information filed with Child Safe is confidential and inquiries are handled through a call-back system. For more information, call 295-9200.


Vital information

Information stored with Child Safe includes:

- The child's name, address and telephone number

- A physical description of the child

- Medical information like allergies, blood type, serious conditions and the name and telephone number of the child's doctor

- Telephone numbers of relatives, friends or neighbors