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Pocatello offers free babysitting course for kids

Now that most kids are out of school, some working parents are starting to look for a babysitter.

Today and tomorrow the city of Pocatello is offering a free, two-day course for kids between 11 and 14 years old to teach them the skills they need before taking that next babysitting job.

More than two dozen kids piled into the Marshall Public Library today to learn what it takes to become a babysitter.

Program coordinator and Marshall Public Library librarian Kath Ann Hendricks has been hosting this course for the past seven years, although the city has been putting it on for more than 20 years.

“We try to provide a well-rounded clinic so they get expert information from different people in the community that work in this field – the fields of safety, daycare, and childcare,” Hendricks said.

Over the two-day period, six speakers from various areas of expertise will be speaking to the kids about mediating different situations and even how to handle different children who can be tough to handle.

Pocatello Police Department’s Dianne Brush also spoke to the group about ways to keep themselves safe.

“They are totally responsible for all those children and it is just good to know what are good safety tips, how to keep the doors locked, how to call the police department, and how to describe where you’re at in case you have to have an ambulance come in,” Brush said.

She posed a variety of scenarios to the group while asking them the best way to handle each situation. Brush said, although some of them had a good idea of what to do in each situation, most of the kids attending the course were learning these skills for the first time.

The Department of Health and Welfare said there is not a set, legal age limit for babysitters in the state of Idaho. It depends solely on how prepared a parent thinks their child is before they head out to take the babysitting job.

The DHW also said it is important to remember a babysitter differs in numerous ways from a daycare center. A daycare center is constituted as such when it watches seven or more kids at the same time, run out of a single facility, for numerous days. A daycare center must have a license based on the most stringent laws set by either the state, county, or city.

According to Idaho laws, daycare center licences must be renewed every two years. In order to obtain that license, the facility is mandated to go through a background check, a health inspection, and a fire and safety check.

Although a license or official certificate is not required for a babysitter, those who complete the course will be awarded a certificate of completion at the end.

Hendricks said this same course is offered by the hospital for a $40 fee since it is not given by the city.

She also said she cannot give-out the personal information of the students who complete this course due to privacy matters, so finding a good babysitter might rely on word-of-mouth or other social organizations.

To sign-up for next year’s course, Hendricks said to check online or call the library at: 232-1263 at least a month in advance since classes fill up quickly.

Follow Kaitlin on Twitter: @KaitlinLoukides

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