- Associated Press - Saturday, January 2, 2016

JENNINGS, La. (AP) - Babysitting can be a serious business for area youth looking to earn a little extra spending money caring for children.

Some Jefferson Davis Parish youth spent time learning how to turn their babysitting skills into a business and how to become better baby sitters by learning to care for children whose safety they are responsible for.

“We want to help educate them to be prepared in every situation when they are sitting and to realize that babysitting is a huge responsibility and should be taken seriously,” Clinical Educator Allison Fields said. “When you accept a babysitting job, you accept the responsibility for that child’s life.”

A dozen youth, ages 11-14, participated in a seven-hour Safe Sitter course sponsored by the Jennings American Legion Hospital Foundation.

During the course, participants used hands-on training, role playing and group discussions to learn about child care essentials including feeding and changing diapers, child development, safety tips, how to handle emergencies and more. “It’s very important to teach them that when they are babysitting they are responsible for that child’s life,” RN Danielle Thompson said. “The Safe Sitter program will help them learn some safety and business skills to help make them the best safe sitter as possible.”

Many of the skills learned can also be used in every day home life and in the community, she added.

“Babysitting is rarely just sitting,” Thompson said. “You are going to have to care and play with that child and you have to make sure you know what to expect from children of different ages.”

Thirteen-year-old Cate Doucet of Jennings said the course helped her learn more about safety for children in her care.

Doucet, who babysits often, said she will use the skills she learned to become a better sitter.

“I’ve learned what to do if something happens to a child while I am babysitting,” Brea Baca-White, 13, of Jennings said.

Juilian Guinn, 15, of Jennings is the aunt to 11 nieces and nephews, who are often left in her care.

“I babysit a lot for my sister who is an RN and I watch a 1 1/2-year-old so I want to be prepared to help take care of them,” Guinn said.

Fifteen-year-old Maddy Hoag of Jennings, who also babysits a lot, said the course instilled knowledge and confidence to better care for children.

“I know if anything happens I need to be prepared,” she said.

Hospital Marketing Director Mindy Hetzel said this is the first time the hospital has offered the Safe Sitter course in several years.

“This is something we really have needed to do for awhile,” Hetzel said. “And from the response we have had this is something that is needed in our community.”

Hetzel said there is a “big demand” for good baby sitters.

“The young people want to make additional spending money and the parents want to feel comfortable about them babysitting other people’s children,” she said.

The next Safe Sitter course is set for March 29.

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