Block parent signs disappearing from Winnipeg windows
Published Thursday, July 12, 2018 5:58PM CST
A symbol of safety that’s been around for over 40 years is getting harder and harder to find in Winnipeg windows.
Block parents have been around in Winnipeg since 1975, but how many has changed dramatically over the past 40 years.
George Jarvis has been involved with Block Parent Program of Canada for 30 years, now serving on the provincial and national board of directors.
Jarvis told CTV News when the program launched, there were about 16,000 block parents in the city.
Five years ago, Jarvis said that number dwindled to about 1,500, and by 2018 it was only 700.
With more parents working, Jarvis said he worries that people are both less aware of the program and less willing to participate in it.
“People talk about ‘Well I don’t have very much time to dedicate to being a block parent,’” said Jarvis.
“Being a block parent doesn’t change your lifestyle. If you’re home you put up the sign when you’re available. If you’re not home or available, you don’t put up the sign.”
Jarvis said there are on average two incidents a month where a child in Winnipeg goes to a block parent for help.
Dianne Montague lives in Crestview and became a block parent four years ago to contribute to a community initiative she grew up with.
“The next door neighbours were block parents, and I remember that,” said Montague.
“I just thought, that’s something we can do.”
Montague said she’s worried about the dwindling number of block parents and would like to see more across the city in hopes of providing kids with a safe haven.
“If the weather was bad, if we had somebody following us, if we didn’t feel sad, if we were scared in any way: we could knock on any door with that sign.”
To become a block parent, participants have to complete a criminal record check and a child abuse registry check.
Jarvis said in Winnipeg, block parents have to have those checks updated every three years.