K-State Research and Extension has launched a new program to support and educate teens and tweens who take care of younger children.
Children caring for children: K-State launches program to help
‘Suddenly in Charge’ will support teens who take care of younger children
April 6, 2020
MANHATTAN, Kan. – The closing of schools and preschools linked to the spread of the new coronavirus sent parents scrambling to find help in taking care of their young children. In some cases, that means older children are helping look after younger kids.
K-State Research and Extension has launched a new program, “Suddenly in Charge,” aimed at helping older children learn the best ways to handle what may be a new role taking care of younger children, whether in their own homes or those of a neighbor or friend.
“Suddenly in Charge is important for our Kansas communities because many families are trying to work from home, and/or have children now at home responsible for providing care for younger children,” said Bradford Wiles, an extension specialist in early childhood development. “The safety of these children is crucial and we want to help families get some of the basic safety elements in place first, and then help them with age-appropriate activities.”
Over the coming weeks, helpful information will be available on the Suddenly in Charge website for teens, tweens and anyone charged with caring for younger children, whether it’s a new situation or they’ve been doing it for years.
“Suddenly in Charge will provide trusted guidance from experts each of the forthcoming weeks with information about the things that families need,” Wiles said. “For example, we have resources being created about food, media safety, disaster safety, animal care and safety, and mental health and wellness, just to name a few.”
One of the first resources planned is a babysitter information sheet with spaces for parent contact information, emergency contacts, doctor information and more.
“This program provides an excellent example of the flexibility and responsiveness to the COVID-19 crisis by the College of Health and Human Sciences Extension campus and field faculty, who include local extension agents in area and county offices throughout the state,” Wiles said. “A team of those specialists and agents that comprise the Child and Family Development program focus team has been working nonstop to help families respond to this crisis on the individual and family levels.
“This work,” he added, “represents the extension model for diffusion of knowledge at its finest, as we are able to help families with simple and easy ways to make things safer and reduce the stress of this pandemic. We are uniquely positioned to help."
More information for all individuals and families is available on the K-State Research and Extension website.