As a summer with few camps, no swimming pools, and no sports leagues bears down on Portland youth, some parents, both of little kids and teenagers are wondering, what about babysitting?
That classic summer job could be a great way to keep teens busy and earning a little money, and also help parents working from home from completely losing their minds.
But is it safe?
The risk really depends on the participants, according to Dr. Hayes Bakken, a pediatrician at Oregon Health & Science University’s Doernbecher Children’s Hospital who is also leading its pediatric outpatient COVID-19 response.
“It’s always important that we start with the individuals involved,” Bakken said. “Parents should evaluate the potential risks for their household. This includes risks for the child, as well as any other household residents or visitors, such as grandparents, aunts or uncles.”
Babysitting, under the right circumstances, could be one of the safer forms of child care, Bakken said, if the family and the babysitter are on the same page when it comes to safety and social distancing.
“Inviting one more person into a family’s quarantine circle is probably one of the lowest risk things we can do,” Bakken said.
That is, if the person you are including in your circle is practicing COVID-19 safety, she added.
If the babysitter is working for multiple families or traveling to open counties on the weekends, that increases the risk for everyone.
“The more social interaction that an individual has,” she said, “the higher the risk to your household and child.”
This means making sure the babysitter is someone you trust, and that you agree on the terms before they start babysitting.
When you weigh the risk, Bakken said, don’t forget how important health, well-being and stability of the family are for a child.
“If a babysitter is what allows a parent to keep their job, or maintain a sense of balance,” she said, “then safely incorporating the service into your household should be strongly considered and may be worth any potential risks.”