The Block Parent Program is available in Cochrane and some parents are looking into becoming volunteers. 

Considering the two reported child luring cases and a reported child abduction case in town, a substantial number of parents are feeling that more needs to be done to look out for the safety of local children.  

Lana Norman, a parent who resides in Sunset Ridge, where the first case of child luring was reported on May 30, felt compelled to do something. “I have a 7-year-old that I barely even see, on the weekend, because she's going from one house to the next to the park.” Norman says some of the parents got together on a Facebook group and agreed that the Block Parent program may be the answer. The Norman family then reached out to the Block Parent representative in Sunset and started the application process.  

For those that are not familiar with the Block Parent Program, it is a volunteer-based child safety and crime prevention program. Participants in the program (Block Parents) place a sign in their window indicating that their home is a safe house that has been screened by police and is a safe place to go if a person is experiencing distress in the community. 

The program had an extraordinarily strong presence in communities across Canada in the 1980s but started to see a decline around 2005 in various provinces. In Cochrane, the program made a return in 2015.  

If you are interested in becoming a Block Parent, it is a process that can take a couple of months.  

Norman says they contacted their local Block Parent rep and received their application. They now must have criminal record checks done by the RCMP which can take a couple of weeks. All members of a household over the age of 12 must have a police records check. Once the check is done the application goes to the Block Parent Rep and Norman says they were told it can take six to eight weeks for the process to be completed. Once the application process is complete, that is when a home receives the iconic Block Parent Sign and instructions as to the role you play as a Block Parent.  

When referring to her own neighbourhood, Norman says, “In our area, I think everyone knows everyone but ultimately at the end of the day it's good to have that sign up.” 

According to the Block Parent of Canada website, a program volunteer may be called upon to offer their home as a place of safety when someone is in a dangerous or frightening situation such as: 

bullied 
lost, hurt or ill 
caught in severe weather 
frightened by a stranger 

A block parent assists persons in distress by telephoning the appropriate emergency service (police, fire, ambulance, etc.) when necessary. 

A Block Parent is not expected to: 

provide food, drink, toilet facilities or transportation 
administer first aid 
leave their home to break up a fight 
open their door to anyone if they feel uneasy about the situation 

For more information on the Alberta Block Parent Program click HERE. The email for the local chapter is cochraneblockparents@gmailcom.