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Orange County, CA

Keep Kids Safe

Keeping Your Child Safe When In A Caregiver's Hands

In our work with children we are always concerned about the safety of those in our care. We'd like to pass on to you some basic guidelines we've developed and which we hope will help to keep your child(ren) safe from abduction when in the care of a school, babysitter, or older child.

All Caregivers

Ensure that the caregiver understands that your child is not to be released to anyone other than yourself, unless release to a particular individual has been discussed in advance and preferably stated in writing.

If you are authorizing release to an individual other than yourself ask what measures the caregiver/institution takes to ensure the identity of that person. They should (at least) examine and make a copy of a photo ID card such as a driver's license and then hand the photo copy to the individual to ask for their signature. The purpose of handing the photo copied license to the individual is to get their fingerprints on the paper. That paper should then be filed so that it is easily retrievable if needed in the future. This procedure should be followed every time someone other than yourself picks your child up, even if the person releasing your child "recognizes" the party picking up your child; a relative could look similar enough to "pass" for the person you've authorized to pick up your child.

Write down where you will be (including the address and telephone number) and your mobile telephone and/or pager number.

In Home Care

Babysitters should be instructed to:

  • Keep all outside doors locked.
  • Never open the door to anyone, unless you have given prior permission.
  • Tell visitors or telephone callers that you are home but unable to come to the telephone.
  • Check on children frequently if playing in another room.
  • Do not allow children to play alone in a room with easy access to outside of the home.
  • Never leave children outside alone. Older children who would be embarrassed by a caregiver participating in their activities can be watched from a lawn chair on the porch or inside a garage with the door open.
  • Check children regularly after they have gone to sleep.

Parents are responsible for ensuring that:

  • Your children know what rules are to be obeyed when a babysitter is in charge.
  • The babysitter knows who the children may or not play with. This includes who may come into your home and whose homes your children may visit.
  • The babysitter knows the names and telephone numbers of neighbors that can be called for help or with questions.
  • The babysitter knows your expectations regarding having his/her own visitors at your home.

Upon returning home, parents should always ask the babysitter about occurrences during their absence:

  • Children's behavior and activity.
  • Incoming telephone calls.
  • Anything out of the ordinary.

Talk to your children about what happened while you were gone (after the babysitter has left.)

  • Did anything make them feel uncomfortable or afraid?
  • Double check the information the babysitter gave re: visiting friend's homes, activities and anything out of the ordinary. This should not be an interrogation and may take some time over several sessions. Example: casually mention "Gina (the babysitter) said you had fun with Michael and Danny yesterday", and then see how they respond.

School and Out-Of-Home Daycare

To and From School

If possible stay with your child at the bus stop. Do not allow a child of any age to wait at the bus stop out of your sight. Station yourself where you can see him/her until the bus arrives. If this is difficult you may try asking the bus driver if she/he would honk when they arrive - just make sure that your child is ready to run out the door when they hear the honk or the bus driver may not be willing to continue this practice.

If you choose not to wait with your child at the bus stop, scout the area to make sure there are no unfamiliar persons or vehicles before sending your child out. Take the trash cans out, pick up the paper from the driveway, water the lawn, take outgoing mail to the mailbox or just walk out and make it obvious that you're scoping out the area.

A child may not realize that someone who knows his or her name may not be a family friend. Even if a child is aware of this it's difficult to emotionally distance themselves from someone who calls them by name; at the very least the child will pause and turn towards the person calling him/her by name. For this reason avoid placing your child's name in a visible place on his/her clothing, backpack, lunchbox or bicycle.

Do not allow your child to solicit (door to door) alone, even for school related fund-raisers. Go with your child or trade this duty with a trusted friend.

Teach your child basic escape techniques. If someone holds him/her or attempts to take him/her somewhere the child should immediately:

  • pull sharply down (versus away) and run.
  • pull out of you jacket, shirt, back pack, etc. and run.
  • strike the person, with hands or feet, in a vulnerable place; groin, face or throat and run.
  • hold onto or wrap their arms and legs around anything (bicycle, fence, tree) and don't let go.

Practice the above techniques with your children at least once a month. To keep your kids interested and avoid the rolled eyes followed by "oh mo-o-om" you might want to make it into a wrestling match type competition.

Absent or Tardy

Ask (in writing) that your child's school and/or daycare administration contact you immediately if your child does not appear at the appointed time. One way to test this is the first time your child is sick or otherwise legitimately missing school /daycare do not contact the administration. See if and how long it takes them to contact you. If you are not satisfied with their procedure ask to meet with them and clearly outline what you expect. There is no need to accuse or confront the administration but you may want to bring one or more parents with you to reinforce your request.

This Free Report has been posted courtesy of Sitters Unlimited of Orange County, CA.

Sitters Unlimited was founded by an educator in 1979 and is staffed by competent and nurturing individuals.

Whether for an afternoon, an evening or overnight - one call to Sitters Unlimited and you're set up with an experienced, CPR certified care-giver who you and your family will love.

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Satisfied clients say ...

"I couldn't believe that my normally shy daughter actually hugged the sitter when she left. She (the babysitter) knew just how to interact with my daughter without overwhelming her."

Debi - Tustin (2 & 1/2-year-old girl)

"Carol (the babysitter) was wonderful. My kids keep asking when she's coming back to play with them."

Evelyn - Orange (3 & 5-year-old boys, 8-year-old girl)

"I want to thank you so much for how you go about doing your business ... that speaks highly of you. I will definitely call you again."

Shannon - Hyatt Regency (7 & 10-year-old boys)

"It's such a peace of mind to have my kids taken care of; I love your service!"

Cheryl - Irvine (1-year-old girl, 3-year-old boy)

"I just wanted to say thank you for taking care of (my daughter) last month. (She) liked you from the moment that you got to our hotel room. It was so nice to feel comfortable leaving her, and I'm thrilled that you were able to put her to sleep."

Marie - Disneyland Hotel (2-year-old girl)

"I was very happy with all the sitters that came to help me. I'm sure we'll be calling you again for additional assistance."

Lucy - Irvine (newborn & 2-year-old twins)

"Our sitters range from college students, to teachers, moms and grandmothers; we even have a former 911 operator who is one of our clients favorites. I work hard to match the right sitter with each family. "

Kathleane O'Leary - franchise owner