Babysitting class aims to save lives


Heartbeat Safety Center in Oak Harbor is offering youth all over Whidbey Island an opportunity to learn how to be safe, effective babysitters and even how they can build their business, if desired.

The Child and Babysitter Safety Training courses will be offered on a monthly basis in Oak Harbor and on South Whidbey. The CABS classes are aimed at children who are old enough to babysit and children who might be caring for a younger sibling.

“We want our students to think proactively and positively,” said Rick Stratton, American Heart Association and American Safety and Health Institute instructor and co-founder of the Heartbeat Safety Center. “We don’t call them babysitters. We train them to be injury prevention and activity coordination specialists.”

The CABS classes will cover a multitude of safety and injury prevention topics, as well as basic caregiving skills and first aid. But there will be even more for youth to learn, like the business side of babysitting.

“It really is a business,” said Stratton. “So we’ll talk about how you’re going to market your business, what are you going to charge? We’re going to give them ten suggestions to kind of get them pointed in the right direction.”

Times have changed for babysitting just as they have for many other things. Today some people will demand a babysitter has a resume or references, they may want them to have a CPR card.

“We don’t want people to think of this as babysitting,” he said. “Babysitting sounds reactive, like you’re sitting there waiting for something to happen. We want them to keep that child entertained and engaged and distracted while Mom and Dad are away so the baby doesn’t get hurt. It changes it from reactive to proactive.”

According to press release from HBSC, the CABS classes are being offered island wide in order to help fill a need.

“The American Red Cross used to provide this kind of training, but its expanded mission has left a gap here on the island,” said HBSC co-founder Robert May, a 28-year Island County first responder and paramedic. “Our nationally accredited CABS class is designed to focus on supervising, caring for and keeping children occupied and safe in babysitting settings.

“Babysitting is very often a child’s first job,” he continued. “We help our students get off to a good start by building a strong foundation of safety, knowledge and preparedness.”

The five-hour class will help prepare students to be in charge, how to handle conflict and to be able to react to situations with confidence “born of good training,” said May.

Even though many parents have talked about a lot of the things covered in the CABS class, Stratton said kids will sometimes learn more from a neutral third party or professional.

Cost for the nationally accredited course is $30. Children between the ages of 11 and 18 are eligible to attend. Classes will be offered regularly on both North and South Whidbey. Information is available online at or by calling the Heartbeat Safety Center at 360-639-8205.


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