The Age You Need to Be In Order to Babysit

Posted on by admin | in Babysitting Jobs

Babysitting is a common way for young people to make some money while providing a necessary service. Tweens and teens will usually start caring for younger siblings or children of relatives and friends. The question that then arises is what age do you need to be in order to baby-sit? Is there a minimum age requirement and are there laws prohibiting young people from providing child care? The answer is; it depends.

First of all, there is no national minimum age requirement to provide babysitting services. So far, this is one area of our personal lives the federal government has not intruded upon. Laws regarding child care vary from state to state, so you’ll have to check with the Department of Human Services in your state to find out what laws they have that apply. Most states like New York, Maryland and Illinois don’t have a minimum age requirement for babysitting, but they may have a minimum age for minors to be left alone. In Illinois that age is 14 so it stands to reason that people who leave their children with sitters under that age could get into trouble with the law.

For states that do have minimum age requirements for babysitters the standard seems to be age 13. Florida is the most stringent with 16, California uses 14 and Missouri sets their limit at 11. Sometimes there are no specific laws but state guidelines apply. States like Texas and Michigan recognize that children start babysitting from the age of 11 and upwards. In some states it depends on the length of time the children are left in the sitter’s care. New Hampshire specifies that children can’t be left unsupervised for over 24 hours with anyone under the age of 15. Specific age limit laws also apply to professional day care facilities.

Regardless of the laws in your state, it’s a good idea to get some training before launching a babysitting career. The American Red Cross provides child care courses for kids aged 11 to 15, while training is also offered by other organizations like Girl Scouts and the YMCA. These organizations can also help promote those new to the babysitting field. Parents will be much more comfortable leaving their precious children with young people who are responsible enough to complete a course of training that includes CPR and first aid.

An argument can be made for an age limit of 16 since a driver’s license could be important in some cases. Teens that can provide their own transportation to and from the babysitting location are a time saver for the parents, especially in rural areas. A license to drive can be crucial in an emergency situation, plus it’s a form of identification for parents to check when hiring a new sitter.

In reality, the question should be asked whether it’s the state’s responsibility to dictate a minimum age for babysitters. The states that do have specific laws regarding age requirements for babysitters are probably the result of a problem that occurred. Whenever there’s a tragedy that happens resulting in death or injury, outraged people insist there should be a law. It’s a common reaction, so lawmakers will want to err on the side of caution and implement legal requirements for their state. Though made with the best intentions, such laws are usually misguided, since they don’t undo the tragedy that has already occurred and does little to prevent one in the future. Such laws ultimately prohibit perfectly competent young people from providing a service because of some arbitrary standard.

Since maturity and responsibility varies with each individual, there is no definitive age a parent can rely on to entrust their child’s safety to another. While some kids are quite capable of babysitting at the age of 12, there are others that shouldn’t be allowed alone with young children even at the age of 18. Other factors that apply to each situation are the number and ages of children being left in the sitters care and for how long. Younger babysitters may be fine to watch the children for a few hours, but it wouldn’t be considered wise to leave them overnight. It ultimately should be left up to the parent’s discretion on whom they are comfortable with regarding their children’s safety and care.

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