Dowagiac to host babysitting certification course

DOWAGIAC — Dowagiac children looking to get into business for themselves for the first time will have soon have a chance, thanks to a certification program coming to the city next month.

The Dowagiac Economic Development and Opportunity Board will be hosting a babysitter certification course from 3 to 8 p.m. on Nov. 17, at the community center across the street from Dowagiac City Hall. The cost is $50. Participants must be at least in sixth grade and in school. The training will be executed by Pro Safety Innovations, based in Niles.

“This is a course designed by ASHI — the American Safety and Health Institute — it’s designed to focus on supervising, hearing and keeping children and infants safe in a babysitting setting,” said Andrew Hartman, owner of Pro Safety Innovations. “We will provide basic supervisor training, caring skills and how to properly respond to an ill or injured child or infant. They are going to get to learn a wide range of things.”

Hartman said he believes it is important that potential babysitters learn the things taught in the course before entering into the field, as it gives them the information they need to properly care for the child or infant in their care.

“I, as paramedic and the reason I started my business, is because there are times in any medical emergency there were things that could have been done before we got there [to help the victim],” he said. “The goal of our business is train people in the best way possible to help when they are needed. We do believe that our classes are some of the best around. … We are happy to provide that training to some younger people to help them potentially save a kid’s life.”

Patrick Bakeman, with the Dowagiac Economic and Opportunity Board, which he said will be the first of its kind in Cass County, said he believes that course will give local children the skills and confidence they need to become competent babysitters stepping their feet into the working world for the first time.

“Anytime a kid can go through a training and get a certificate, it’s going to add a little self-esteem to them,” he said. “It’s going to give them the knowledge to babysit, to watch a kid or to even be on their own a little bit.”

The idea to host the training came about after members of the Dowagiac Economic and Opportunity Board noted that there was a lack of daycare and childcare options in the area. Bakeman said the babysitter certification program is the first step to tackling that problem.

“We need to start at the beginning with the youngest generation possible,” he said. “If we want our young people to be involved in things, we have to start getting them involved, and getting them that certification.”

Bakeman believes in the program so much that he and his business, Bakeman Barbers, will be giving away 10 full-scholarships to the course. There are currently four scholarships to the course left to be given away.

“We have been looking for something to give back to,” Bakeman said. “This is a good fit for us.”

Saying he hopes the people of Cass County will take advantage of the course, Bakeman said the babysitting course is a good opportunity for children.

“You may look at the $50 as a lot of money, but it is really an investment in their future ability to earn money,” he said. “That’s what we are trying to teach our kids for the future anyways.”

To register or to inquire about a scholarship, interested students can contact Bakeman at (269) 782-5694 or on Facebook at Ward 1 Councilman Patrick M. Bakeman.

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