The safety and well-being of a child is critically important, whether they are with a parent or another caregiver. It’s no surprise that when couples plan time together without children in tow, the task of choosing a reliable babysitter can be daunting.

For many young adolescents, babysitting is their first job, and it’s often accompanied by little or no training.

Fortunately, the Safe Sitter Program at Cincinnati Children’s teaches participants basic childcare and first aid skills and much more. Cincinnati Children’s began offering Safe Sitter training in 1988 for adolescents ages 11-13. In 2009, the program offered approximately eight sessions and impacted over 100 participants in Greater Cincinnati. Participants pay a nominal fee, and Cincinnati Children’s underwrites the remaining cost.

The impetus for this program is the prevention and reduction of unintentional injuries among infants and young children. Accidents are the leading cause of death for this population and 90 percent of those can be prevented with proper precautions and education.

Preparation Is Key

The Safe Sitter motto is “Better sitters today, better parents tomorrow.”

“The program is comprehensive and covers everything from behavior management to CPR. It also teaches babysitters how to screen jobs and what numbers to call in an emergency,” says Lynda Nicholas, who has coordinated the hospital’s program for 20 years.

Someone Who Knows

It’s this training that attracted Molly Pace-Scrivener, a 1998 Safe Sitter graduate and Cincinnati Children’s employee. “The training gave me the confidence to babysit a child with complex medical needs. I know I’m prepared to handle any situation that may arise while I’m in the role of a caregiver,” Pace-Scrivener says.