By: Jen Blackstock
Are you the parent of a child with type 1 diabetes? Do you often wish that you could find a babysitter who understands the “ins-and-outs” of type 1 so that you could enjoy an evening out, assured that your child is in good hands? Or are you a teenager with type 1 who is looking for a way to help children manage their disease, while making a little extra money at the same time? Then look no further than www.SafeSittings.com. Launched over six years ago in Manhattan by teenager Kimberly Ross, www.SafeSittings.com is a free online service that matches type 1 families with babysitters who also have the disease.
It all started when Kimberly, in ninth grade at the time, overheard a family lament that they had not had a night out in over 18 months, ever since their child had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. The reason had nothing to do with money, but rather with the struggle to find a competent babysitter to handle the special needs of the child, a babysitter who could monitor and test blood sugars and inject insulin. A light bulb went off and Kimberly had an idea: She could babysit for the child because she too had type 1 diabetes and had been managing the disease for years. Thus, SafeSittings was born.
Over the next two years, Kimberly partnered with her school nurse to publicize her services with a local nurses’ association and medical offices. Soon, there was so much demand that Kimberly created a network of other teenagers like herself who were willing to use their experience with type 1 diabetes to help families in need. After attention from national media such as The Wall Street Journal and NBC’s Today Show, the demand for the service skyrocketed, and the teenagers converted to not-for-profit status. Requests came in from families as far away as San Francisco for sitters in their area. A few sitters spearheaded setting up local networks, such as in the Bay Area, and the service was officially national.
In 2007, the sitters created their website, modeled after Craigslist, which is an online bulletin board. Here sitters can post their profiles and families can search for sitters in their area, all for free to both parties. Once a family finds a sitter in their area, then all fees, rates, and expenses are negotiated between the family and sitter privately and directly.
Thus far, the organization has helped match thousands of families and sitters all over the country. Nancy Ross, Kimberly’s mother, states that “teens with type 1 diabetes are encouraged to sign up as babysitters so they can put their experience and skills to good use and earn extra money babysitting at the same time.” It is usually a very rewarding experience because often the babysitters become role models and mentors to the children they babysit for. All parties benefit from the service.
For more information or to sign up, go to www.SafeSittings.com.