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Babysitting club teaches teens responsibility

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- Jennifer Rooney, a babysitter club member, stops by the youth center here at the end of her school day to visit with the children and assist instructors.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Darryl Barnes)

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- Jennifer Rooney, a babysitter club member, stops by the youth center here at the end of her school day to visit with the children and assist instructors. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Darryl Barnes)

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. (AFPN) -- What started out as just an after-school club to occupy free time, turned into a well-known organization here dedicated to teaching teenagers responsibilities of adulthood.

Sherry Franklin, a program’s director at the youth center, started the babysitter club in 1999. Since then, their services have been requested by parents, military organizations and local agencies within the Nellis community.

“Before the club was started, [the youth center staff] often received calls for babysitters, but at that time there was no such service,” Mrs. Franklin said. “I started asking around and found out that many teenagers were interested in providing this service, but were limited in the skills necessary to independently care for younger children.”

The club’s members provide individual and group care for base events such as the Air Force Ball and Air Force Academy football games.

Prices, times and location for individual family care are all determined by the babysitter.

“I serve only as adviser for the sitters; I handle issues that may arise from the sitters or the requester,” Mrs. Franklin said. “All profits are given directly to the babysitters.”

Before sitters can profit from their business, Mrs. Franklin said they are required to complete a free “sitters” course offered by a local agency.

“When I provide a name from the babysitter club to parents, I want them to understand they are getting someone who is responsible,” she said. “And the only way to do that is to ensure the teenagers are screened and properly trained.”

The work-study session is a two-day course that teaches interviewing techniques, caring for infants, safety in the home and babysitter-to-child relationships.

Once the required course is completed, the teens have a photograph taken and provide background information on any child-care experience they have.

“Personalized file folders are maintained on each babysitter to include a photo and training and evaluation sheet of previous jobs,” Mrs. Franklin said.

The sitters gain financial and parental responsibilities, and also the meaning of mentorship.

“I joined the club because I wanted to occupy some free time after school, but I’ve stuck with it for two years because it’s taught me about responsibility,” said Jennifer Rooney, a 15-year-old babysitter club member. “I am used to being the baby in the family, but through the club, I am able to become the big sister.”

“The program is a life skill for the sitters,” Mrs. Franklin said. “It teaches them how to interview for a job; it also teaches management skills and long-term planning. Babysitting gives them the responsibility of running the entire operation, I hope they will use and apply it as they grow older.”

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