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WHAT IS A BABYSITTER?

A babysitter is someone who will look after your child or children, in your own home for short periods of time. Babysitters are not formal childcare, it is parental choice.

If you are thinking about becoming a Babysitter, we suggest that you discuss the pros, cons and risks of the job with your parent or guardian. In the company of your parent or guarding, read the information on this page, and visiting the NSPCC website which has much more information.

DO BABYSITTERS HAVE TO BE REGISTERED?

Babysitters are not registered and at present there are no regulations which govern them. Babysitters do not need any qualifications to look after children – anybody can advertise their services as a babysitter. Parents and carers must decide themselves whether someone is suitable and responsible enough to look after their children.

HOW OLD DOES A BABYSITTER NEED TO BE?

The law does not state an age at which young people can babysit. However, the NSPCC website does not recommend asking anyone under 16 to look after a young child. If you use a babysitter who is under 16 years old, you are still legally responsible to ensure that your child comes to no harm. Some young people, even at 16, may not be mature enough to be left to care for children.

The MOD's Standing Orders states that children over 16 years of age may be suitable to babysit other children. 

The MOD Standing Orders discuss Babysitting:

ORDER NO 4: BABYSITTING

  1. All heads of families are reminded of their responsibilities towards their children, particularly if left in the care of babysitters. Children under the age of 14 must not be left unsupervised.
  1. When choosing babysitters all parents are reminded of their responsibility for the health, welfare and safety of their children and are advised to exercise great care in their choice of babysitters. Parents should ensure that babysitters are at least 16 years old, have adequate experience and have a level of maturity in the care of young children.
  1. If a child is left with a babysitter under the age of 16 and it is thought that the child is at risk because he/she is inadequately supervised, disciplinary action may be taken against the parent(s) and/or care proceedings could be taken in respect of the child.
  1. In summary:
  1. Children under the age of 14 must not be left unsupervised.
  2. Babysitters should be over the age of 16.
  3. Where babysitters are under the age of 16, the parent(s) may be subject to disciplinary action if the child is thought to be at risk.
  4. It is the parent(s) responsibility to ensure that their child(ren) is adequately cared for.

ORDER NO 6: CHILDMINDING ON CROWN PROPERTY

  1. Units are reminded that where any group or individual is using MOD property for their own gain and profit, MOD must be indemnified against the possibility of any loss or claim for loss. There is a specific requirement for childminders, individuals or groups, to provide insurance cover (naming the Secretary of State for Defence) to the value of £2,000,000 for any one incident and unlimited in total.
  1. In particular units should warn wives who act as Childminders that this applies to them.

WHAT IS THE LAW ABOUT LEAVING CHILDREN ALONE AT HOME?

The law does not specify an age when a child can be left at home alone. However, parents commit an offence if leaving the child at home alone puts him or her at risk.

 

WHAT SHOULD I THINK ABOUT, WHEN CHOOSING A BABYSITTER?

The NSPCC advise: “Follow your instincts. If you have any doubts about a childminder, babysitter or other carer, don’t take them on”.

They also say: “Listen to your child. If your child seems to be unhappy about a particular babysitter, find someone else” (NSPCC ‘Home Alone’ leaflet).

  • Invite them to meet your child before they babysit for you and see how your child reacts to them.
  • Always get at least two references and follow them up. This could be a tutor at college or other parents who have used their services. Try to assess their maturity and their ability to cope in emergency situations.
  • Ask questions, such as:
    - What experience do they have?
    - Do they have First Aid knowledge?
    - What are their ideas about discipline?
    - Which television programmes do they consider suitable for children to watch?
    - What would they do in an emergency?
  • Any concerns about a babysitter’s suitability should be shared with Social Care Services

WHAT IS THE LAW ABOUT LEAVING CHILDREN ALONE AT HOME?

The law does not specify an age when a child can be left at home alone. However, parents commit an offence if leaving the child at home alone puts him or her at risk.

Click here to read more about this law.

WHAT DO I NEED TO TELL THE BABYSITTER?

Discuss your child’s normal routines and their likes and dislikes. Let them know about any allergies or special needs your child has. Discuss what they should do if your child is distressed or behaves badly when you leave. Make sure they know what to do in an emergency and ensure they know how to contact you.

You should also make sure they know your ‘house rules’, e.g. can they smoke in your house? What can they eat? Can they babysit with a friend? Are there rooms you don’t want them to have access to?

Give them a time when they can expect you back and make sure you contact them if you will be late. Agree payment beforehand and discuss how your babysitter will get back home.

WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFORMATION?

If you are still unsure about leaving your child in the care of another person, or a Babysitter, we suggest that you visit the NSPCC's website for more information.

 

To find out more, get in touch with Jill Shaw, Childcare Coordinator

Tel        +357 9961 8672

Email    jill.s@ssafa.org.uk

 

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