Is Your Child Ready to Babysit?
Article Courtesy of CHI St. Joseph Health
For children entering their pre-teens, staying home alone can represent a big step toward independence. For parents, determining whether they’re truly ready for that level of responsibility can be challenging.
“It’s a judgment call,” said Fawn Preuss, Manager of CHI St. Joseph Healthy Communities and local coordinator of the Safe Sitter® program. Safe Sitter courses are designed to give young teens the skills they need to be safe in unsupervised settings – whether they’re babysitting, sibling sitting or staying home alone.
“The challenge is that there really is no magic age when children suddenly become ready to stay home alone,” said Preuss. “But, there are things we can do proactively as parents to help them become more confident, prepared and independent. One of them is enrolling them in a program like Safe Sitter to teach them things like what to do in severe weather or, if they’re babysitting, how to change a diaper or provide safe care for children at different ages and stages.”
Safe Sitter® at CHI St. Joseph Health
A certified Safe Sitter teaching site for more than 25 years, CHI St. Joseph Health has trained generations of middle schoolers to safely care for themselves and others, as part of its commitment to child safety.
Founded in 1980, Safe Sitter is the only national nonprofit training program of its kind for young teens. Over time and as families’ needs have changed, Safe Sitter has continued to expanded and update its training materials in accordance with American Academy of Pediatrics and American Heart Association guidelines.
The Safe Sitter® Essentials with CPR class now packs safety skills, child care, first aid and rescue, life and business and an additional hour of CPR instruction into a one-day class.
To meet growing need for this training in the community and improve access, CHI St. Joseph Health has increased the number of Safe Sitter classes it is offering and moved them into dedicated classroom space. Scholarships to help families cover the registration fee are also available.
“This class is not only educational; it’s fun,” said Preuss. “The lessons are interactive, filled with activities and role-playing exercises. Students also get an opportunity to use manikins for practicing CPR and choking rescue.”
If You Go
CHI St. Joseph Health will offer six Safe Sitter® classes over the summer for local children in grades six through eight. Pre-registration is required, as class sizes are limited, and costs $50. Scholarships are available for those who qualify.
Upcoming class dates and times are available at https://www.chistjoseph.org/services/maternity/safe-sitter-course
All Safe Sitter courses will be held 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the CHI St. Joseph Health Medical Office Building, Suite 140 classroom, located at 2700 E. 29th Street in Bryan. Students should bring a sack lunch and drink that does not require refrigeration.
To access the registration form, visit www.chistjoseph.org/services/maternity/safe-sitter-course or contact Healthy Communities at 979-731-1231. To learn more about the Safe Sitter program, visit https://safesitter.org.
As children gain practical skills through a program like Safe Sitter, Preuss said parents can continue to support their pre-teen’s new found independence.
“Make sure they know emergency numbers – 9-1-1 for emergencies, your work and cell phone numbers, Poison Control and contact information for a back-up adult, such as a relative or neighbor,” said Preuss.
Giving children the skills training they need and reinforcing the basics will reassure parents and build their pre-teen’s confidence, as they apply what they’ve learned, said Preuss.