It's important for parents to choose the right babysitter, and knowing the babysitting guidelines of Maryland is just one way for parents in that state to make a knowledgeable decision. Likewise, babysitters must know Maryland guidelines so that they can deliver safe and reliable care for their charges. A babysitter who knows the guidelines will have a competitive edge over those who don't.
Minimum Babysitting Age
According to Maryland State law, a person must be 13 years old or older to babysit a child, although a child as young as eight years old can be left at home alone. Parents that leave their child with a babysitter younger than 13 can be charged with child neglect. Even if they are over the legal age, parents are advised to consider the maturity and sensibilities of the babysitter with whom they are leaving their child.
Child Protective Services
Maryland law states that Child Protective Services can get involved if it suspects a babysitter is unfit to properly care for a child. Also, any parent, educator, health practitioner, police officer or human service worker who suspects that a child has been neglected or abused by a babysitter should contact the Department of Social Services at 410-853-3000.
Maryland does not regulate the professional qualification of babysitters, so parents are advised to do this themselves. One way is to check that a potential babysitter has completed a babysitting course. The American Red Cross of Central Maryland offers babysitting certification which includes training in children's health and safety, as well as basic First Aid and CPR.
To further help parents self-regulate their potential babysitters, Maryland makes background checks readily available by request. You can get a background check through the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, which offers a service to check "child care volunteers" for $33.25, as of publication. On top of the criminal background check, parents should also request at least one reference from a family for whom the potential babysitter has worked.