Edmonton

Block Parent group issues plea for volunteers

The number of people who volunteer to help kids in trouble by joining Alberta's Block Parent Association today is less than one-third of what it was a decade ago, the organization said.

The number of people who volunteer to help kids in trouble by joining Alberta's Block Parent Association today is less than one-third of what it was a decade ago, the organization said. 

Edmonton has two such neighbourhood safety associations — the second is the Safe Parent Association — but in many other Alberta communities, there are no designated homes for kids in trouble.

Ten years ago, there were about 15,000 block parent homes across the province, but that has plummeted to less than 4,000 homes in 2009, said Olunda Dorward of Alberta's Block Parent Association.

"To get people to even become block parents sometimes can be difficult because people, you know, their time is valuable, and years ago, moms were at home, so they were always the eyes in the community."

Dorward says neighbours need to step up and open up their homes since parents can't rely on schools to always keep their kids safe.

Carrine Kaul feels her two daughters are safe in the local playground, but it's when they walk home from school that Kaul starts to worry.

"A Block Parent that I would trust would be fantastic," she said.

Any responsible person 18 years or older who is willing to help can serve as a Block Parent — after being screened by police. Block Parents can offer help in dangerous or frightening situations by telephoning the police or the home of the child and reporting suspicious or criminal activity in the neighbourhood.

now