Healthy Start offers babysitter training

By Nancy Gutierrez

Parent's worries about hiring a safe dependable babysitter are over now that Lindsay Healthy Start and First Five Tulare County are offering babysitting classes.

The program started last month and its first class of certified babysitters graduated last Thursday, Oct. 28.

A group of 10 Lindsay High School students attended several classes throughout a six week period and learned everything from CPR to proper nutrition for children.

"Kids are very vulnerable and they need a lot of love and care," Claudia Laguna, 17, said.

Laguna said she took the class initially because of the job opportunities it offered. These high school students will be taking care of children during school meetings, classes or events that occur in the evening. They will essentially work for the school district to provide child care during important meetings for parents.

The district has had a need for evening child care, however administrators wanted to make sure that children would be under the care of not only responsible but educated caregivers, who would also teach the children. Program director, Denise Fjetland-Beshwate, said participants in the class learn CPR, First Aid, basics of child development, nutrition, what age appropriate toys are for children, how to play with children of specific ages, discipline strategies and home safety.

"I think the CPR was the most important thing we learned," Erika Orozco, 17, said. "I never knew how to do it, now I do. And I know what to do in an emergency. I think other people should take this class even if they are not interested in babysitting. You never know when you'll have to practice CPR."

The graduates from this first class are not limited to jobs within the school district they can be contacted to babysit for anyone in or out of the community. Their fees could potentially be slightly more than the going rate, but these students have more to offer. Many of them are planning careers related to child care and development. Jannette Casimiro, 16, plans on being a pediatrician. She said she learned that child care isn't as easy as she thought. Lucia Mendoza, 16, knows that the more education she receives about child development the better prepared she will be when she starts her career in child care.

To hire one of the graduates from the babysitting program or for more information on the program call the Healthy Start office at 562-8292.

Programs funded through First Five Tulare County are made possible by Proposition 10, the tobacco tax initiative.

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