So often women (and men!) fear that having a child at a young age will prevent them from achieving their educational goals. A child will burden their finances, their time, their energy, and so forth. How could they possibly balance a child in one hand and a diploma in the other!
For young parents, the choice to raise their children while also continuing their education is a courageous decision. The demands of being both a parent and a student are high. There are bills, books, classes, work, and (obviously) the children. This is of course a very short list!
Setting up a volunteer babysitting group with members of your pro-life group and other volunteers is a great way to help aid parenting students on your campus. Watching over your fellow classmates kid(s) allows them to better pursue their education. While it can certainly become a time commitment on your part as well, your service will most certainly be appreciated.
- Contact Student Activities to request permission to reserve a room for babysitting. Check with the Director to make sure that you address any liability issues.
- Pick out a date and time. A great time for a babysitting event is before or during exam weeks! This gives parenting students and professors a short break so that they can prepare for exam without distractions.
- Assign members to cover your babysitting shift(s). It is preferred to have students with previous babysitting or camp experience. First aid knowledge and medical training is a plus!
- Create flyers and social media advertisements. Assign members to print and post flyers around campus. Remind your members to post announcements on social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter).
- Personally invite parenting students and professors to your event.
- Create a waiver form for parents’ to sign before leaving their child. This helps protect you from liability issues. Your form should include emergency contact information and any health issues or allergies.
- Create a flyer with your group’s contact information, event time/location details, etc. to give to parents dropping their kids off.
- Prepare an emergency kit. Include a list of on-campus health resources, local hospitals, and other helpful medical support. Add band-aid and baby wipes to your kit.
- Collect your baby/child fun items. You can buy cheap coloring materials and activity books at your local dollar store. If you choose to bring other games or toys, be careful to avoid chokable or sharp items.
- On the day of the event, arrive 15-30 minutes early to set up. You want to be there before the parents arrive. No excuses.
- Make sure that you collect the parent’s signed waiver and give them the flyer with your group’s contact information and event details.
- If a child needs to use the bathroom, 2 students should go with them. This helps protect the child and your members from compromising or suspicious situations.
- Send a text to parents as you are coming close to closing time to make sure that they remember to pick up their kids.
- Thank the parents for their participation, and inform them of other Pregnant on Campus resources that may be helpful for these parents.
- Clean up! The room(s) should look just as good as when you arrive. Clean up toys, wipe up messes, and throw out trash.
Tips for a Successful Babysitting Event
- Assign an Event Leader. This person will be responsible for overall event management- including collecting all paperwork (e.g. Volunteer Agreements, Emergency Forms), informing parents of event conditions and expectations, following up with parents (e.g. texting late parents to pick up child), and so forth.
- Advertise early and often! You should start pushing your advertisement at least a month in advance. Post flyers all around campus. Hand out flyers to professors, academic advisors, school counselors, and health center representatives. Post event information on Facebook.
- Have forms for both volunteers and parents. These forms will help provide protection against potential liability issues. All volunteers should be required to sign a volunteer agreement, and all parents must provide emergency and medical information for their children.
- Review child safety with your group. We encourage you to review CPR and other child safety procedures with your group. See our “Child Safety” page here.
Keep Them Busy
Planning activities for the kids will help the time go by and keep young ones distracted from the absence of their parents. Pick out a variety of activities that your young charges are capable of doing, and be sure to bring whatever arts and crafts, balls, or other play things needed. You may also suggest that parents bring their child’s favorite toy.
- 101 Indoor Games and Activities for Kids (Care.com)
- 6 Fun Babysitting Games (Care.com)
- Craft Activities (Kidspot.com)
Babysitting events may initially be hard to get up and running on your campus. Even if your first attempt results in no signs up, your effort to create this opportunity is still notable. Don’t be discouraged! Try again next semester. This event shows that your group is willing to put your words into action and provide tangible support.
Thinking about starting a babysitting group on your campus? Please contact our Pregnant on Campus Coordinator if you need help with this project. Check out this Feminists For Life sample brochure to advertise your babysitting group!