MORRISONVILLE — The Red Cross Babysitter’s Training Course helps students become experts in the business of babysitting.
“It’s much easier to sell your skills and get those babysitting jobs” after taking a course, said Caroline Boardman, regional communications director for the American Red Cross of the Northeastern New York Region.
Heath Powers, full-service course manager and volunteer instructor at the North Country Chapter of the American Red Cross, has been teaching the Babysitter’s Training Course for four years.
“It’s probably one of our most popular courses,” he said. “It’s a great way to give confidence to participants.”
The course can prepare both future and current babysitters and give them confidence, Boardman said.
Some students who take the course are new to babysitting, while others have already begun, have just heard about the course and are looking to improve upon their existing skills, she said.
A range of discussion, video and role-playing exercises will be used to teach students how to make decisions under pressure; communicate with parents to learn each household’s unique rules; recognize safety and hygiene issues; care for young children; and feed, diaper and care for infants and toddlers.
“We spend a lot of time on decision making,” Powers said.
And informed decision-making can make all the difference in emergency situations.
“What we know at the Red Cross is every second counts” in an emergency, Boardman said.
And human nature doesn’t always prompt us to act quickly and logically in emergency situations, but instruction helps with this, Boardman said.
Students will be provided with a portable emergency-reference guide that can be used on the job.
Not only will having safety skills put parents at ease, but it could mean higher pay for babysitters.
More than 80 percent of the parents in a recent Red Cross telephone poll of more than 1,000 parents said they believe teenage babysitters should be paid more if they have been trained to know how to recognize when a child is choking, have the ability to identify and respond to emergencies, and know how to administer first aid for minor cuts and bruises.
In addition to learning babysitting basics and emergency-response tactics, students receive information about how to start their own businesses.
Practical skills such as resume writing, interviewing and how to dress appropriately are addressed in the course, Boardman said.
Powers encourages his students to include the Babysitter’s Training Course on their resumes and to list what they learned there so parents will be familiar with their skill set.
He also does a mock interview exercise so students can become familiar with the interview process and will know what to expect.
Ways to effectively self-market are also discussed and business start-up tools like business-card and resume templates will be provided to help students build their businesses.
In case students need help generating activities to do with the children they are caring for, they will receive an interactive CD and a booklet with games, songs, recipes and other activities.
The CD also has pre-made forms so sitters can organize each client and job with a schedule detailing emergency contacts, any medications a child needs and what times they should be taken, meal plans and a schedule of activities.
The Red Cross will continue to offer Babysitter’s Training courses through August so students may take the class during their summer vacation and will also campaign to encourage students to take the course during Columbus Day weekend in October when they have time off from school, Boardman said.
Last year, 159 students took part in the course.
Students get a boost of confidence and are proud of themselves when they receive their Red Cross completion certificate after the class, Powers said.
“They feel more confident and comfortable in themselves.”