Block Parent program in danger of folding

by Stephen Dafoe

The Morinville Block Parent Association is at risk of folding if a new executive cannot be found by Oct. 5. In a press release issued Sept. 15, the current board of directors announced the program will close in Morinville Oct. 15.

“There have been many attempts to improve the number of Block Parent homes in Morinville over the years and to gain awareness and interest in the program,” said the Board’s Chair Tanya Sloan. “Unfortunately, there are currently less than 20 and that number continues to decline.”

Sloan has been chair of the organization for the past three years, a time when the work of the board has been done by the three members the organization has locally.

Both Sloan and Morinville resident Jackie Luker sit on the provincial board, Sloan having served as treasurer for the past four years.

“Jackie and I went to Ottawa and got to see the national program,” Sloan said. “What we’ve been seeing is a steady decline across Canada in all of the programs. The community programs have been dropping.”

Sloan said the decision for the executive to step down has been a tough one, but with stagnant numbers of Block Parent households and no added or fresh blood on the board, they see no other option.

“We’ve had 20 houses my entire time,” Sloan said. “We cannot get it higher. It doesn’t seem to drop off completely, which is a good thing, but we cannot increase it. We want to see as many as possible, but if we had at least 75 to 100 [homes], I’d be happy.”

The association also accepts businesses as Block Parent locations. Sloan said the difficulty is that every member of the staff has to have a criminal record check, a situation that can be problematic with businesses that have steady turnover of staff. As such, they have not been able to get that aspect of the program off the ground.

But Sloan and the current board remain hopeful a group of people will step forward to keep the program alive. “I’d love to see fresh blood come in and kind of take over,” she said. “We’ve been doing it for so long. Of course, we are starting to be discouraged.”

The local Block Parent group are asking interested residents to step forward prior to Oct. 5 or on that day at a special meeting being scheduled for the Morinville Community Cultural Centre for 7 p.m.

The Board requires a minimum of three people, although Sloan said she’d like to see seven so the group can participate in community events to spread awareness.. There is a requirement to hold a minimum of two meetings per year. Sloan said she would be willing to stay on in a non-executive role to assist a new board.

For more information, contact morinvilleblockparents@hotmail.com or call Tanya Sloan at 780-720-7581.

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