FRANCIS SCOTT Key Medical Center is doing its part to help parents find qualified baby sitters. It's also helping those sitters feel comfortable about the jobs they've taken.
This win-win situation is a new course for young baby sitters, called Safe Sitter, offered for the first time in Maryland at the Key Medical Center on Eastern Avenue. Nurses, doctors and other professionals from the hospital's pediatrics department teach the course designed to help youngsters 11 to 14 cope with
health and safety problems that might arise while they are taking care of youngsters. The class also helps young sitters know what to expect from children of different ages -- and how to handle their charges' parents.
The goal of the program is "to make better baby sitters and, eventually, to make better parents," said Sue Roche, a pediatrics nurse and Safe Sitter instructor. "I wish I would have had a program like this and [one] for my children," she added.
The classes blend medical and developmental information with practical advice, such as how to diaper and feed a baby, what games to play with 4-year-olds and how to refuse a baby-sitting job. The young people learn CPR techniques and how to prevent choking; there is time for hands-on practice and role playing.
"Feeding should be pleasant for you and for baby," said Roche during a recent class of 13 girls at the medical center. "Do not prop the bottle. Don't be doing other things while feeding the baby. Know the feeding schedule," she continued.
Although all of the young women in Roche's group said they were familiar with caring for infants, many members of previous classes, which included several boys, were not.
While Roche was detailing the do's and don'ts of feeding baby, )) another instructor was covering toddler tips and a third the principles of handling preschoolers.
These 3- to-5-year-olds are "the ideal first job," nurse Debra Scala was telling her group. "There are no diapers, they won't rant and rave and they look up to you," continued Scala, who coordinates the hospital's program with another pediatrics nurse, Ceal Curry.
The course information focuses on four routines faced by most baby sitters: feeding, toileting, entertaining and bed time.
There is also advice for the "business" side of baby sitting: "Verify how a person found you, the number of children and the ages of the children," suggested Scala. Know how you are going to get to the job and how you'll get home. Know how much you'll be paid, she continued. "You have to feel comfortable talking with adults about this."
There are also plenty of safety tips: How to answer the phone, where to keep emergency numbers, what to do when a stranger comes to the door.
The Safe Sitter program was founded several years ago by a pediatrician in Indianapolis after the child of a co-worker choked to death because a baby sitter did not know how to save him. Sponsored by hospitals and other organizations, the program has spread to 28 states.
The Baltimore hospital started the program in May.
The next Safe Sitter class will be Oct. 2, 4, 6 with sessions from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 2 and 4 and from from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Oct. 6. The fee is $12; registration is limited. For more information or to register, phone Francis Scott Key Medical Center, 550-0963.
It's back to school for parents who want to sharpen their skills
IT'S SEPTEMBER. And for parents who wish to join their children in the classroom this fall, area colleges and other institutions are offering a variety of classes to help make parents' jobs easier. Here are a few:
* One session on bedwetting after age 6 will be held tomorrow evening at Fallston General Hospital. Part of the Familycare Education Series sponsored by the Upper Chesapeake Familycare Centers, the class will offer the latest research, as well as effective techniques, for dealing with this problem. The free program begins at 6:30 p.m.; registration is required. Call 879-0500.
* A 10-week course, "Guiding Children's Growth," is especially for parents of children 2 1/2 to 4 years of age. During the course, parents will observe their children and interact with them while an instructor helps them to be more effective parents and to share concerns and problems with others. The course begins this week at Harford Hills Elementary School, 8902 Old Harford ++ Road; classes will be Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings, depending on the age of the children. Registration fee is $26. Call Cindy McKew, 592-2660.
* Towson State University is offering an informal course, "Growth Through Separation: You, Your Child or Your Parents" on Sept. 26 and Oct. 3. Instructor Ruth Lebowitz will discuss how to cope with separation -- from either parents or children. Each class will be from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in Linthicum Hall. Fee is $15. Call 830-3532.