A common dialogue between two parents goes like this, “Let’s go out tonight!” “I’d love to, but who’s going to watch the kids?” “Can you call the sitter?” “I tried, but they’re not in.” “What about our neighbor’s teenager?” “I don’t know, have they ever watched kids before?” “Maybe, you wanna ask them?” “I’m not comfortable with that. We’ll have to go out some other time.”

And so, another opportunity for quality adult time goes down the drain.

This experience is not unique to parents looking for a night out, but every day across our community, primary care providers for children find themselves stuck and unable to adjust to surprise circumstances because they have to watch their kids. Often, such situations come up and are worked around with limited complications, but wouldn’t it be nice to know that the young adult coming to watch your children for a while has some experience?

Your Montrose Regional Library agrees with you, which is why we are hosting certified babysitting training as a part of our library’s Growing Readers Together program (co-sponsored by the Colorado State Library and the Temple Hoyne Buell Foundation). This program provides educational and early childhood-specific workshops for adults who watch their neighbors’, family’s or friend’s kids on a regular basis. In researching how to best meet the needs of teenagers who do this in the community, the library and its partners (Hilltop Family Resource Center, and Technical College of the Rockies) saw an opportunity to improve early childhood practices among teenage caregivers of children 0-5 years of age.

Consequently, the internet-based program called Safe Sitter came up as a strong option for Montrose Library to utilize, having been implemented with success in over a dozen library districts.

As a nationally recognized babysitting-training service, Safe Sitter will be taught to youth in the community who spend a good chunk of time each week (2 hours or more) watching their younger brothers or sisters, neighbor’s kids, or family members. These Friend, Family and Neighbor (FFN) caregivers are regularly put into situations where they are in charge. By providing some training on routines, meals, and safety in the home, our certified instructors will equip the young people that participate with a robust toolkit of knowledge to help them when they are in charge of little ones.

While the workshops in April and May have already filled up, we have our site license to host these trainings on a regular basis. When the number of interested people reaches a critical mass, we can then open up future trainings, so please call and ask if you are interested in this sort of training or if you just want to know more information, and ask for James when you call.

James Stetson is a Youth Services Librarian at the Montrose Regional Library.

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