Block Parenting programs can create safe havens for children in times of danger. These programs entail placing highly visible signs in windows or on doors saying Block Parenting Program. The Block Parent will assist children who come to the door needing help.
If a child is frightened for some reason, harassed by someone, lost, approached by a stranger, witnesses an accident or needs help for any other reason, they can go to the Block Parent for help.. If necessary, the Block Parent should call the police and take care of the child until the police arrive, can call the child’s parents, or just care for the child until their parents return home.
The National Block Parenting program makes neighborhood children feel safer whether or not they are ever actually called on in an emergency, because Block Parent signs can often deter kidnappers and pedophiles.
Recruit Block Parents from neighborhood associations, civic organizations or school-based parent groups. It’s a good idea to expand beyond the borders of your immediate area to find Block Parents, because children who live on your block often pass through a different neighborhood when they walk to and from schools, parks, recreation centers and grocery stores, etc. Another good place to recruit Block Parents is at street fairs, school open houses, or at local schools.
Check with local police or the school district to see if they can connect you to an existing Block Parenting program or help you start one. Local police will usually run a quick background check on volunteers before they can be officially named as Block Parents.
Use school newsletters or the local newspaper to announce where and when your Block Parent Program Committee will be registering Block Parents. Prepare and distribute a fact sheet explaining the program to local schools. A week or so before a registration event, a member of your Block Parent Program Committee could visit the local school and explain the program to young students. Children can bring the fact sheet home to their parents encouraging their parents to participate.
When people volunteer to be potential Block Parents, explain the length of time they are expected to participate. The Block Parent can serve for a year at a time, beginning at the start of the school year to the end of the school year, however you don’t need a definite length of time someone can perform this service. Some people may want to participate for several years.
Let potential volunteers know they will need to be cleared through a police background check. The extent of the investigation by police will depend on the policies and resources of your local police department. Usually the police department will check to see if the potential Block Parent has prior arrests. This check may or may not show arrests in other states. Remember that Police cannot divulge the contents of a person's crime file to the public, which means they cannot tell you or your neighbors if someone has a record. In most cases, all of the volunteers on the list receive police clearance and the list is returned to the neighborhood group. You may want to invest a few dollars and do a nationwide search.
Dealing with privacy issues can at times be an issue. Individual Block Parent volunteers can get their own clearance letter from the police department. The volunteers must present a driver's license or similar identification and pay a small fee so the police department can run a check and issue the letter. Only volunteers with clearance letters should be accepted as official Block Parents.
In neighborhoods where most of the adults work, it may be difficult to find parents who stay home enough to make the Block Parent program meaningful. In those areas, your committee should try to recruit neighbors with home businesses, or those who are retirees shut-ins.
Once You’ve Begun Your Program
Children should know where to go for help in their neighborhood. Take a walk through the neighborhood together and point out the houses where there are Block Parents.
Block parent homes should display Block Parenting signs.
Make sure children know the nearest adults who they can count on for assistance, and that these adults know the children have been instructed to turn to them for help.
Your neighborhood may have Block Parents, volunteers who temporarily take care of children during an emergency. If so, make sure your children know the signs identifying homes of Block Parents.
For any Block Parent program to be successful, it must be explained not only to the adults but to children as well. Children must know that they can turn to the Block Parent when they are in serious trouble and their parents are not available to help them. Once you’ve set up your Block Parent Program plan a small party for the neighborhood children so they can learn about the Block Parent program. Committee members should also make short presentations about the program in classrooms and at student assemblies. Block Parents should host an open house to introduce themselves to the children and familiarize the children with the house.
Teach Your Children Well
Start a block parenting program in your community. Become a member of the National Block Parenting Program, an initiative of Love Our Children USA and we will supply you with the tools you need to get started. Love Our Children USA's National Block Parenting Program is the only national program in the United States.
Contact Love Our Children USA for membership information
The National Block Parenting Program™ and National Block Parenting™ Sign is a trademark of Love Our Children USA™ and cannot be copied or reprinted.
If you reside in Canada please contact
The Block Program of Canada