December 23, 2004
Katey Phillips knew that babysitting children was serious business, so the 12-year-old took a class to make sure she was ready.
Now certified by Scottsdale Healthcare’s Safe Sitter program, Katey is in demand for babysitting services in her Fountain Hills neighborhood, and making big bucks. But the biggest payoff, she said, is knowing how to handle just about every situation.
"If something goes wrong, you want to know how to fix it," said Katey, a seventh-grader at Fountain Hills Charter School. "It kind of helped my confidence a little bit with babysitting and now I know exactly what to do."
The Safe Sitter babysitting class teaches boys and girls ages 11 to 13 the fundamentals of babysitting, especially handling emergencies. Students learn how to revive a choking child with rescue breathing, how to prevent injuries and when to call a parent, a neighbor or 911, said Dale Hruska, a health educator at Scottsdale Healthcare who oversees the Safe Sitter program.
"We show them how to be safe," Hruska said. "When they accept a job, they’re in charge of that child’s life."
Started by an Indiana woman whose choking child died after a babysitter did not know how to do rescue breathing, Safe Sitter is now an international program available across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. More than 1,000 kids have participated in Scottsdale Healthcare’s Safe Sitter classes since they began about four years ago, Hruska said.
"People are always looking for babysitters," she said. "Now they’re looking for certified babysitters."
The one-day class teaches students how to get started as babysitters, including interviewing the parents, activities to do with children, toileting, bedtime and what to charge. Kids are also taught not to talk with friends on the telephone, to clean up messes made while babysitting, and a signal they can give their family for a ride home if the parents who hired them return drunk, Hruska said.
"We give them all the tools so they’ll know how to get out of a sticky situation," she said.
For Katey’s mother, Kathy Phillips, the class provides reassurance that her daughter has all the skills she might one day need as her babysitting increases. "Even if you never use (those skills), you’ll know what to do."
Take the class
Scottsdale Healthcare will offer its next Safe Sitter babysitting class 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Feb. 21 at the Osborn medical campus, 7301 E. Fourth St., Suite 22. The $60 cost includes a manual, kit, backpack, bandage dispenser, notepads, penlight and Safe Sitter identification cards. Call (480) 882-4636 to register.