When Andrea Lee turned 12, she wanted to be allowed to look after her 5-year-old sister, Nikki, and perhaps begin babysitting children from church.
But her mother, Janice, was nervous. If something went wrong, would Andrea know what to do?
Janice isn't worried anymore. That's because Andrea completed the Safe Sitter course. Founded in 1980 by pediatrician Patricia Keener, Safe Sitter offers one- and two-day classes for children ages 11 to 13 in 900 sites in the United States, Canada and Great Britain. The program teaches the basics in feeding and caring for infants and young children, first aid, rescue breathing and the Heimlich maneuver.
Janet Raker, a nurse and Safe Sitter coordinator, said of the program, "Often, in a crisis situation, it's the adults who are panicking while the young person who has been trained will react in a calm manner. And many of the situations we hear about are not in baby-sitting situations but out in public."
Andrea, who attends Faith Lutheran Church, Indianapolis, said, "I felt much more confident watching my sister. It was easier to understand than I thought it would be, and now I know what to do."
She found the "babysitting as a business" section to be helpful "because they teach you what questions to ask the parents and the kids."
Andrea, now 13, is letting families know she is ready to care for their children, and Janice is proud that her daughter is motivated and responsible. "They always say that there's no manual for being a parent," Janice said. "At least there's one for being a baby sitter."
For more information about Safe Sitter, call (800) 255-4089 or visit www.safesitter.org
© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers