Parents' Fears to Hire a Babysitter, Local Program Offers Help - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Parents' Fears to Hire a Babysitter, Local Program Offers Help

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Chimere Finney from Wicomico County is shown with her 3-year-old son Lamont. (Photo: WBOC) Chimere Finney from Wicomico County is shown with her 3-year-old son Lamont. (Photo: WBOC)

SALISBURY, Md.- Some parents need a little "me" time, but that can be hard to do if you do not trust someone like a babysitter to watch your child.

It is a fear that health care providers say many parents have, but there are ways to work on building trust.

Chimere Finney from Wicomico County believes her 3-year-old son Lamont is one-of-a-kind.

"He loves to play. He is actually like a little comedian," Finney said. "We have a really tight relationship and our bond is very close. He's a fun, energetic, outgoing kid and I love him."

Finney is a young mother on the go and sometimes she has to leave Lamont behind.

"I leave him with either his father or his grandmother," Finney said.

Finney said she would never invite a babysitter into her home because she is afraid that someone could harm her son.

"The fears that I have is that no one is going to be able to take care of him, like me and his father," she said. "He's 3 and he is very energetic. He needs undivided attention."

Statistics suggest that fears about harmful babysitters are often unfounded.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, an analysis of Crimes Committed Against Children by child care providers shows that babysitters are responsible for 4.2 percent of all offenses against children under age 6.

Children ages 1-3 are most at risk for physical assault by baby sitters, while those most at risk for sexual crimes are 3-5 years of age.

"Well you hear a lot of bad stories out there. But you really want to know that your child is in safe hands," said Carol Moore, an education specialist from Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury. Moore teaches a program called Safe Sitter. It has in been in full operation for 20 years.

"It is for 11- to 14-year-olds," she said. "You do need to know that in the state of Maryland you must be 13-years-old to babysit. But that's not true for Virginia and Delaware. We open the program up to 11- to 14-year-olds," 

The Safe Sitter program teaches young teens babysitting as a business, child care essentials and the importance of a help sheet.

"Some of it is the business of baby sitting. How do you figure out a charge? What if you don't feel safe, how do you get a hold of your parents," Moore said. "We teach them an emergency signal with the parents so that they can in touch with someone."

"There are a lot of people that are certified and take classes and still hurt children, " Finney said. "I'm not willing to take that risk with my son."

Twenty-year-old Erin Estep from Wicomico County considers herself a sitter with a lot of experience. She is aware that some parents draw back from the typical neighborhood baby sitter.

"In the news you see how a lot of babysitters abuse the children or do some form or abuse, and that's probably like the main fears for parents is the unknown, because they don't know this person," Estep said.

Health care providers said the goal is to build trust and that works both ways.

"Some babysitters do not do it for money trust me," Estep said. "They do it for a love of the kids."

Fears about child care providers are normal. But with time, parents like Finney believe it is an option worth exploring.

Health leaders do suggest that you take it slow. First, ask someone you trust to come over and babysit while you are present in the home.

You can give that person the lay of the land and educate them on your child's routines and quirks.

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