MEDIA ADVISORY: New program aims to increase the number of lifeguards in Palm Beach County
MEDIA: For more information and/or arrange interviews, call 561-703-2192 or e-mail Jon Burstein by clicking here.
Pools nationwide have suffered from a shortage of lifeguards and swim instructors and Palm Beach County is no exception. That’s why the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department and Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County are launching a pilot program that will allow lifeguards and water safety instructors to become certified for free.
Certification costs to become lifeguards and water safety instructors often can act as barriers for teens and others who might be interested in applying. The cost can range from $175 to $400. With an agreement approved Tuesday by the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners, Parks and Recreation will provide the pool space and staff for trainings at county-run pools while Children’s Services Council will cover the processing fees for certification. Hopeful lifeguards and swim instructors participating in the program will pay nothing to be certified.
“This is truly a win-win-win. A win for teens looking for summer jobs. A win for kids who need swim lessons or just want to enjoy a pool on a hot summer day. A win for the community because it helps protect our children around water,” said Dr. Lisa Williams-Taylor, CEO of Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County.
“We’re really excited to partner with CSC to offer free lifeguard and water safety certifications to our community,” said Jimmy Davis, Director of Aquatics for Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation. “Our goals are to remove financial barriers that exist with becoming certified, eliminate lifeguard shortages in our area and ultimately reduce the number of drownings. What more could you ask for?”
The initial phase of the program calls for one lifeguard class and one water safety instructor class to be taught per month. The classes typically are three days and participants must take a pretest to make sure they are physically able to carry out the job duties. The free certification classes are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Since the disruption caused by COVID, the county has struggled to fill lifeguard and water safety instructor positions with 1/3 remaining vacant last summer and that number rising to 50 percent at some county pools.
That led to a significant drop in the number of children’s swim lessons offered at county-owned pools. For example, in 2019, the county offered 3,441 swim lessons. That number dropped in 2022 to 1,938 swim lessons. Some families receiving vouchers for free swim lessons from the Drowning Prevention Coalition, which is funded by the County and CSC, have been unable to use them because of the lack of swim instructors in the county.
The first certification classes offered through this pilot program will be in April. The dates are being finalized and will be announced soon.
County pools are Aqua Crest Pool in Delray Beach, Lake Lytal Family Aquatic Center in West Palm Beach, North County Aquatic Complex in Jupiter, Pioneer Park Aquatic Center in Belle Glade and Santaluces Aquatic Complex in Lantana.
About Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department
The Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department, celebrating 50 years of providing healthy, happy living to residents and visitors to Palm Beach County, is recognized nationally for excellence in park and recreation management and provides organized recreational programs and services for people of all ages and abilities. Created in 1951 under the direction of the County Engineers Office, reorganization in 1972 led to the separation of Parks and Engineering and so the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department was born. Discover healthy, happy living at www.pbcparks.com and follow @PBCParks and #pbcparks on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and WordPress.
About Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County
The Council is a local, special-purpose government created by Palm Beach County voters in 1986 and reauthorized in 2014. For more than 30 years, it has provided leadership, funding, services and research on behalf of the county’s children so they grow up healthy, safe and strong.
If you have questions related to Children's Services Council of Palm Beach County and/or media inquiries, please contact Shana Cooper, Public Information Officer.