St. Francis, Safe Kids offer baby-sitting safety course

lgierer@ledger-enquirer.comJuly 15, 2013 

When Christy Hubbard, a mother of two children under the age of four, was a teen baby sitter, she did not know a lot about taking care of children. But her baby sitter Maggie Kelley does thanks to a baby-sitting course.

Kelley, 18, will be headed to Georgia Tech this fall, and a significant source of income for her has been baby-sitting. This summer, Kelley, who said she loves working with children, has also picked up employment as a nanny.

Kelley began getting serious about baby-sitting when she was 12. It was at that time that she took a Safe Sitter course offered locally. She learned several ways to keep children safe and happy.

Such a course will be offered again July 31. It is sponsored by St. Francis Hospital and Safe Kids Columbus.

It is a one-day event for children ages 11-13 that lasts from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at St. Francis Health Matters. The $50 fee includes lunch, and those interested can call 706-596-4070.

"Because of the course, I have been confident with children. I know some cool things to do with them so they are not just sitting and watching television," Kelley said.

One thing she learned in the course is that bored children act out more. Not only did she gain first-aid knowledge, but she also learned how to get important telephone numbers. She said many parents leave their telephone number or the number of a relative, but not a contact number for something as important as a poison center.

Safe Sitter was founded in 1980 by Indianapolis pediatrician Patricia Keener after a colleague's 18-month-old choked to death under an adult sitter's care.

Keener developed Safe Sitter as a medically accurate instructional program designed for teens because she felt that most teens lack a knowledge of first aid, rescue skills and behavior management techniques.

The program is in use in cities across the country.

Hubbard is a consultant with Safe Kids Columbus.

"Since we are involved in injury prevention, it makes sense for us to be involved with a program such as this," Hubbard said.

She said most baby-sitting is done by those children ages 11-18 and in this course boys and girls learn nurturing childcare techniques, behavior management skills and what to do in a medical emergency.

"They learn how to diaper a baby but more important they learn how to save a life, what to do if a child is choking. They learn how to be professional and accept that the fact they have been hired to do a job," Hubbard said.

While the children don't get qualified in CPR, they do learn the basics.

One thing they learn is how to talk to the parents for whom they are working. They learn to ask for the right telephone numbers, how to say they do not bathe the children and getting information about the children they are watching. For example, is there an allergy of which they should be aware? Young sitters also need to know not to answer the door.

"Having taken the course might help a child get a baby-sitting job," Hubbard said.

The course might help the young baby sitters far into their future.

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