Helen Brooks to Retire from Babysitting Certification Courses

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Town News
Displaying each of her babysitting badges and her trusty workbook – a practice she has come to embrace when beginning a new class – is Helen Brooks. Brooks, who is retiring in October, has long been the certification instructor for babysitters in the area. (Photo by Lura Jackson)

By Lura Jackson

 

For almost four decades, the youth of Washington County – and beyond – have been training with Helen Brooks to obtain their babysitting certification as part of a three-day course. That epic stretch of time and effort is coming to an end this year, with Brooks formally announcing that she will be retired by October.

Brooks has been offering babysitting certification since 1982. At the time, she saw an ad in the Bangor Daily News about a new class being offered by the American Red Cross for those interested in certifying prospective babysitters. As an experienced mother by that time, she thought it seemed like a perfect fit. Since then, she has conducted the training with hundreds of students all over the state, and as far away as Jamaica. Remarkably, Brooks says she can’t recall ever meeting another certifier – indicating why she’s been the go-to resource for so long.

Babysitting certification is awarded after satisfactory completion of a six- to eight-hour course that covers the essentials of the practice. The course covers the business of babysitting, characteristics of a babysitter, marketing and organizing skills, caring for kids of all ages, common problems and solutions and an introduction to first aid and CPR – everything that an aspiring babysitter needs to know. Hiring an uncertified and untrained babysitter is an invitation for disaster, Brooks said. “I don’t think parents realize how much danger there is when they have hired a child to come and take care of their children.”

Once they’ve taken the course, however, certified babysitters have gained at least a cursory mastery of necessary techniques and know-how. “It really sets them up for when they’re older,” Brooks said, noting that it is a particularly good path for aspiring teachers, pediatricians, day care workers and others. “It helps them when they’re mothers or fathers. It’s a neat little program.”

As much as Brooks has enjoyed offering the course, she realizes she isn’t able to do it any longer as a result of the heavy lifting involved. Each class session requires supplemental materials that must be brought in for the participants to interact with, and the transportation of the materials has become too much of a strain.

If someone is interested in following in Brooks’ footsteps in the realm of offering babysitter certification, she is more than willing to teach them by demonstrating a class and providing wisdom she has gained from her experience with it. She isn’t able to certify a teacher herself, however – to accomplish that necessary portion, the prospective teacher must contact either the American Red Cross or Babysitting 101, both of which are certifying entities. Brooks herself started out with the American Red Cross method in 1982, but she later switched to the Babysitting 101 course when she realized the workbook was less expensive and just as informative. Another option for a workbook to use in the course is The Christian Babysitter’s Handbook, Brooks notes.

 

While Brooks is retiring in October, anyone that would like to take the course with her before September is invited to contact her to set up a class.  Brooks can be reached at 454-7409, or occasionally found at Calais Free Library or St. Anne’s Episcopal Church during the day.