Find out how a babysitting preparedness program could help save your child’s life
The Scott & White injury prevention team wants to help give parents a peace of mind and babysitters the knowledge and confidence they need to handle emergencies by offering the Safe Sitter® program.
The program, that was started by Patricia Keener, MD, in 1980 after a colleague’s daughter choked to death under the supervision of a babysitter, is geared toward teaching young babysitters how to properly take care of children and know what to do in case of an emergency.
Why start with young babysitters?
“[Dr. Keener] wanted to start with teaching young people—11 to 13-year-olds—because that’s generally the time when they start staying by themselves or start babysitting,” said Ravonne McCray, injury prevention/outreach coordinator for the Scott & White Trauma Center.
What does the program offer?
The babysitters-in-training are taught how to administer basic first aid, prevent injuries, and perform infant/child CPR.
“We talk about safety for the sitter, poisons and choking rescue,” Ms. McCray said. “They’ll also learn how to spot a child who needs CPR, how to open an airway, how to give chest compressions and rescue breaths and when to get help.”
During the two-day class, the instructor will also teach the sitters how to profit from their experience and knowledge.
“We teach them how to interview the family that is asking them to babysit and how to make babysitting a business,” Ms. McCray said.
Graduates of the program will also learn how to provide basic care for infants through school-aged children.
“We go through the different ages and talk about routines, entertaining the child, snacks and meals and toileting,” Ms. McCray said. “We also talk about behavior and what to expect at all of those levels.”
What are the benefits of the program?
Parents of graduates can be certain that their child will know what to do in an emergency, not only when they are babysitting, but also when they are home alone.
And according to the Safe Sitter® website, “Parents of children being watched by graduates are comforted knowing their children are in good, nurturing hands.”
When is this program offered and how do I get my child involved?
The first Safe Sitter® class is August 1 and 2, from 9:30 am to 4:00pm in the McLane Children’s Hospital multi-purpose room.
To get your child involved, contact Ravonne McCray at (254) 724-4967 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The cost to participate is $60 for both days. For this price, the trainee will get a Safe Sitter® handbook, a Safe Sitter® bag, a T-shirt and some things to start their own babysitting kit.
Who is eligible to participate?
“I tell parents that the child has to be 11,” Ms. McCray said. “Dr. Keener feels like at 10 and a half you’re not really at the right maturity level. So, we like to say 11 and up.”
And the class isn’t just for girls.
“We do have a couple of boys who have signed up for the first class,” she said. “It’s good for young boys to know how to handle emergency situations, as well.”
Big brothers are often tasked with looking after their younger siblings, and knowing what to do if a child chokes or is in distress, is a valuable asset to the child and their parents, she said.
Other opportunities with Safe Sitter®
“We can also take [the program] outside of the hospital to schools, afterschool programs and Girl Scout troop meetings,” Ms. McCray said. “We can break up the curriculum into one or two-hour segments over a period of time.”
And Ms. McCray can even train others to become Safe Sitter® instructors.
“We can offer a class here at Scott & White so they can be trained,” she said. “We would be the site coordinators and oversee it. That way more people could go out and teach the program.”