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Seat Checks FAQs

Seat Check FAQs

  1. I want to recertify and I need to know how to complete my seat check sign offs.  What should I do? 
  2. What if I attend a series of events and can't finish my seat checks? Can I set up a fake check? 
  3. If I fail a seat check, does it mean I'm no longer a tech and can't recertify? 
  4. I am a CPSTI. Do I have to do seat check sign-offs?
  5. Are seat checks audited? 
  6. I live in a remote area and it's hard to meet with instructors for my seat check sign offs. Could we do a video call? 
  7. I am a tech outside the US. How do I complete my five required seat checks for recertification?
  8. What happens if a technician can't do the actual installations for the required seat checks due to a physical restriction?
  9. As an Instructor or Tech Proxy, what if I don't recognize or need to fail a seat check?

1. I want to recertify and I need to know how to complete my seat check sign offs. What should I do? 

You can locate instructors (or Tech Proxies) using the FIND A TECH search at http://cert.safekids.org. Click on the Find A Tech link and use the search to find instructors (use Certification Type=Certified Instructor). To search for Technician Proxies, leave certification status blank and check the Tech Proxy box.

In order to complete your seat check sign-offs, an Instructor or Technician Proxy must watch you while working with a parent/caregiver during a seat check. The purpose of the sign-off is to evaluate your CPS technical skills and your ability to teach a parent/caregiver how to properly use and install their child restraint. This observation can be done at an individual appointment,  inspection station, or seat check event.

Before working with the family, you should first reach out to an Instructor or Technician Proxy. Let him/her know exactly which sign-offs you need for your recertification. This is important when they are planning appointments and managing attendees at a seat check event. Contacting them in advance also gives the Instructor or Technician Proxy a chance to set aside time to thoroughly observe your interactions with the family. Time needs to be set aside because the entire interaction with the parent/caregiver needs to be observed, not just at the end when the participant is preparing to leave. Communication between you and the Instructor or Technician Proxy is essential.

The Instructor or Technician Proxy has the option to set up a mock (fake) seat check, if a family is not available. Be sure to talk with them beforehand to see if they allow this and what their requirements are. Real or mock, an actual vehicle must always be used for seat checks.

After your seat check has been observed and discussed, quickly enter it in your online profile. This will generate an email to the Instructor or Technician Proxy and notify them that they have a seat check to review. Check your online profile later on to monitor whether the seats have been approved.  If they haven't, please reach out to the Instructor or Technician Proxy and give him/her a gentle reminder to approve the seat check online.

After you have completed all of your seat check requirements, continue to volunteer at seat check events. That will not only help strengthen your CPS skills, but will also help you build a great working relationship with your fellow technicians.

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2. What if I attend a series of events and can't finish my seat checks? Can I set up a fake check? 

A mock seat check is allowed if the Instructor or Technician Proxy is comfortable using the option.

It is important that you talk with each other to be sure you are on the same page in terms of expectations. Real or mock, an actual vehicle must always be used for seat checks.

The following guidelines were approved by the Certification/Recertification committee of the National CPS Board:

  • During a seat check, it is always best to have the child present.
  • Instructors and technicians are strongly encouraged to make every effort to do an actual safety seat checkup.
  • If an actual caregiver is not available, the instructor or technician proxy may choose a mock scenario, where a colleague acts out the part of the parent.
  • It is strongly encouraged that instructor/tech proxy verification of required seat check activity be completed on an ongoing basis throughout your certification cycle, rather waiting until near your certification expiration date.

As during actual seat checks, the primary purpose the verifying instructor or technician proxy must feel confident in your ability to communicate accurate information to a parent or caregiver and double-check that the installation and paperwork are correct.

More information on seat checks for recertification is available online

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3. If I fail a seat check, does it mean I'm no longer a tech and can't recertify? 

Not necessarily. If a technician or instructor fails a seat check they still have an opportunity to have that instructor or a different instructor observe their skills another time before their certification expiration date. You can enter as many seat checks as you like but only the 5, one of each type, is required for recertification. If someone fails a seat check sign off, the Instructor or Technician Proxy should explain where they needed to improve or why this is not a correct seat installation. All five installations must be passed in order to recertify, in addition to community education and 6 CEUs. Failing a seat checks does not reflect poorly on the technician.

It is also important that when you are attending an event and need to have seats signed off that you contact the event coordinator ahead of time to be sure that an instructor or Technician Proxy will be there and available. This provides an opportunity for the instructor or Technician Proxy and technician to understand what is expected during the seat check, including evaluating the installation, and the communication and technical skills. Technicians should be sure to keep the name of the Instructor or Technician Proxy that they worked with so that they will enter the correct name of the instructor or Technician Proxy. Submitting an incorrect name will result in being marked as failed because it entered for the wrong instructor to review.

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4. I am an Instructor. Do I have to do seat check sign-offs? 

Seat check sign offs create an opportunity to confirm the skills of fellow technicians. The process is similar to working with parents: encouraging correct use, reinforcing resources to aid technician recommendations, and making the person more confident in their skills. Technicians readily rely upon local instructors to assist them in many ways. This is a continuation from the classroom in to real life scenarios that provide the "aha" moment when a technician learns of a new way to make a recommendation or apply new technical information. For instructors, seat checks serve as a necessary balance of being a good educator and being technically proficient.

Although there is no mandate, Instructors should be reasonably available to techs in their community since only Instructors and Technician Proxies can do a sign off. This does not mean that they have to approve a seat check. If the Instructor or Technician Proxy does not feel confident in the tech's ability to communicate accurate information to a parent or caregiver, they should provide guidance and support so the tech will do a better job next time. 

Note: There are some states that have seat checks as a standard of performance or an expectation of a CPS Instructor accepting and operating under the scope of CPS practice.

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5. Are seat checks audited? 

The 5 required seat checks are approved online by the instructor or technician proxy. Their approval is all we need! If you are selected for a recertification audit, just send in proof of 6 CEUs earned.

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6. I live in a remote area and it's hard to meet with instructors for my seat check sign offs. Could we do a video call? 

If you are not able to go to an instructor and they are not able to meet with you, consider a FaceTime or Skype-type video call. This option is available and depends on the comfort level of the instructor. Like face to face seat checks, you could complete a series of mock or real checks. Have a colleague hold the phone or camera so you (and the caregiver) can be seen and heard by the instructor. When the seat check is done, you and the instructor would discuss the seat check in real time.

The instructor may have additional requirements beyond one seat check of each type (extra questions, maybe extra seat checks) so be sure to talk about expectations in advance.

Try a practice check first to go through the technical issues and to assure that you and the instructor are on the same page in terms of expectations and requirements.

For more tips, see the FAQ "I am a tech outside the US. How do I complete my five required seat checks for recertification?" 

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7. I am a tech outside the US. How do I complete my five required seat checks for recertification? 

For non-US Techs wanting to recertify as a car seat technician: Follow the steps.

Step 1
Reach out to an Instructor to talk about the seat checks needed for recertification and how you may complete this step in your recertification process. You may contact members of the  instructor team that taught your certification course. You may also check for a list of instructors Find a Tech (in State, Outside USA and Canada). You can locate Instructors (or Tech Proxies) using the FIND A TECH search at http://cert.safekids.org. Click on the Find A Tech link and use the search to find instructors (use Certification Type=Certified Instructor). To search for Technician Proxies, run a second search, this time leave certification status blank and check the Tech Proxy box. Contact Safe Kids if you need additional help.

Step 2
Let your instructor know exactly which sign-offs you need for your recertification. Contacting them in advance also gives the Instructor a chance to set aside time to thoroughly share their expectations with you. Communication between you and the Instructor is essential. If you are working with an English speaking instructor and English is your second language, you may want to find someone to translate for you and would need to use simple words and phrases that are to the point and easily translated. 

Step 3
Complete your seat check either in person, by video call or recorded checks.

Step 4
After your seat check has been observed and discussed, quickly enter it in your online profile. This will generate an email to the Instructor and let them know that they have a seat check to review. Be sure cps.certification@safekids.org is an approved sender so the email notification do not get caught as spam. Your profile will always have the status of the seat check reviews. If you are waiting for approval, you can reach out to the Instructor and give him/her a gentle reminder to review the seat check online.

A Successful Seat Check
The primary purpose of instructor verification of the seat check activity required for recertification is watching your interaction with parents and children. The verifying instructor should feel confident in your ability to share correct information to a parent or caregiver and should double-check that the installation and paperwork are appropriate and correct. 

To meet the seat check requirement by video recording or video conference, the instructor is looking for the same things that they would at a live, in-person seat check event. Real or mock, an actual vehicle must always be used for seat checks.

What are they looking for?  

  • Using a checklist.
  • Pointing out labeling, expiration and model information and checking or recalls (if US car seat).
  • Correct use of LATCH/ISOFIX or seat belt and/or tether. 
  • Communicating/Demonstrating correct car seat selection, direction, location, harnessing of the child (or doll), and installation of the car seat. 
  • Checking that the parent or caregiver can unbuckle and reinstall the seat and can securely buckle in their child (or doll).
  • Using resources such as the car seat and vehicle instructions to support your recommendation to the caregiver. If they are not available, use the stickers on the car seat.

 

There are three options that you have to complete the seat checks: In person, video call such as Skype or Face Time or a recorded seat check.

In Person

The Instructor has the option to set up a mock (fake) seat check, if a family is not available. Be sure to talk with them beforehand to see if they allow this and what their requirements are. Real or mock, an actual vehicle must always be used for seat checks.  

Skype or Face Time (video call)

If you are not able work directly with an instructor, consider a FaceTime or Skype-type video call. This option is available and depends on the comfort level of the instructor. Like face to face seat checks, you could complete a series of mock or real checks. Have a colleague hold the phone or camera so you (and the caregiver) can be seen and heard by the instructor. When the seat check is done, you and the instructor would discuss the seat check in real time. (Seat Check FAQs)

The instructor may have additional requirements beyond one seat check of each type (extra questions, maybe extra seat checks) so be sure to talk about expectations in advance.

Try a practice seat check first to go through the technical issues and to assure that you and the instructor are on the same page in terms of expectations and requirements.

Recorded Seat Check
You may do the video explanations in Spanish or any language if the instructor that you are working with is bilingual in that language. The instructor may want to discuss the video and checklist with you once they have been reviewed and then when he or she feels confident in your skills, you can enter the seat checks online for the instructor to approve. Instructors should also provide constructive feedback that will be useful for the technician and indicate their approval or disapproval of the seat check so there are no surprises.


Helpful links:

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8. What happens if a technician can't do the actual installations for the required seat checks due to a physical restriction? 

Technicians are required to complete 5 car seat installations for recertification. All technicians and instructors are required to have a currently certified instructor or technician-proxy witness and verify a correct installation in a vehicle with accurate technical information and quality communication with a caregiver. Should any technician or instructor require assistance with the physical requirements of the seat check, the evaluating instructor or tech proxy will accommodate the person by installing the seats following the technician's specific instruction in each step of the selection, direction, location, and harnessing process.

Example: Kate has broken her arm and Tess, who is an instructor, has spoken with her about how she will check car seats while she is in the cast. They agree to work together at an upcoming fire department checkup. Tess and Kate have discussed expectations and how the checkup will take place, discussing how she will work with the parent or caregiver. Tess will watch Kate's interaction as she talks the caregiver through correct installation and use of the car seat. Kate is sure to double check the harnessing and installation as the parent works. After the checkup, Tess will ask Kate follow up questions and if she is confident in Kate's technical and communication skills, Kate will then enter the seat online in her profile.

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9. As an Instructor or Rech proxy, what if I don't recognize or need to fail a seat check? 

Have you ever gotten notified of a pending seat check for your review but you don’t recall working with them? Sometimes techs enter the wrong name or submit a seat check where you didn’t actually watch them the entire time, confusing it with a senior/double checker. Does checking the failed button reflect poorly upon them? Not at all! When you need to fail a seat check, a comment box will open up with you select fail. You can enter a reason. Whatever you type is included in their automated notification email. It does not mean anything except they need to try again or enter the correct person as the instructor.

You are not penalizing them. This is an opportunity to educate them on seat check expectations and build a relationship so they can work with you again.

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