Preteens who want to enhance their babysitting skills have the chance to learn safety basics at Safe Sitter classes, offered by several hospitals around Northwest Indiana.
In the program, students learn child care essentials like changing diapers, feeding, safety and injury management, said Kelli Wood, one of the instructors of the program offered through Franciscan in Michigan City.
They also learn the basics in choking rescue, she said.
Peggy Mauch, an instructor for the Franciscan St. Anthony Health program in Crown Point, said the program also teaches potential sitters how to screen babysitting clients and how to maintain a child’s routine.
“We talk about how routines may be different for different age groups, and how to prevent and handle problem behaviors for different age groups,” Mauch said.
Courses in the Michigan City location will be June 12, July 17 and August 8 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The fee is $35 per student, and the class is for children between the ages of 11 and 14.
Courses in the Crown Point location will be July 20, Sept. 9 and Nov. 16 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The fee is $60 per student, and for children ages 11- 14.
Mauch said the courses teach future sitters how to handle themselves in a variety of emergency situations, from power outages to fire to finding a gun within the home.
“(We talk about) how to handle themselves, when to call a backup adult and when to call 911,” she said. “We also stress the importance of keeping themselves safe and the use of a safety signal, which tells the parents to ‘come now,’ no questions asked.”
Mauch said the class helps the students realize the seriousness of the babysitting job they are undertaking.
“Some of the posters we use say, ‘When you accept a babysitting job, you accept the responsibility for a life,’” she said. “I believe everyone should know how to save a life.”
Mauch said she knows of parents who have sponsored neighborhood preteens to attend the class in anticipation of them babysitting for their children. Students leave the class with the tools they need to deal with emergencies, as well as workbooks full of take-home information.
The Crown Point course also comes with a backpack, which includes tools sitters might need in case of emergency.
“I know some adult nannies who have said they wish they could take this course,” Mauch said. “This class is so important because of the skills they learn.”