Setting up a babysitting co-op

Looking for a great opportunity to make friends, have reliable babysitting services available at a moment’s notice and enjoy membership to a club that’s all about community? Starting a babysitting cooperative will accomplish these things and more. It can be easily established when three or more families in the community become dedicated to starting one.

The cooperative is started to give parents an opportunity to entrust their children to other members of the co-op without monetary cost. The co-op is an agreement among members to share babysitting services among each other. In other words, it operates on the premise of trust. It’s a world of, “I sit for you, you sit for me.” The co-op is intended for occasional babysitting services only.

Once families have been identified as willing participants in organizing a babysitting co-op, a planning meeting needs to be set up. Issues about rules and record-keeping need to be established. Certain issues need to be discussed and agreed upon for the co-op to have the best chances of serving its members well.

Membership of co-op

Who is eligible to join, and should a maximum number of families be allowed? Regular meetings should take place. How often and at what time should they occur? Who is required to attend the meetings, and what are the issues to be discussed? Will dues be collected and for what purpose? Will dues cover perhaps paperwork or an annual party?

Designation of titles and responsibilities

The group may want to elect a chairperson or secretary. A leadership role should be designated, and this person should address challenges, progress and various issues affecting the co-op. A secretary should be designated to keep members information and track babysitting services being used and fulfilled by members. The secretary is the link for requesting and fulfilling services. How long will these positions be held by members? Should the positions be rotated on a predetermined schedule? How will any members taking on leadership roles be compensated? Will they be awarded babysitting hours for fulfilling commitments?

Means of determining value of sitting

Many co-ops operate on a points system. Points are predetermined by the co-op and are recognized by all members. Some co-ops use coupons, others use fake money. This is determined in the establishment of the co-op. Establishing the “cost” of a child at an hour, a meal and overnight care are all issues requiring careful consideration.

General rule guidelines

All members need to be provided with the names of parents, addresses, phone numbers and names and ages of kids. Updates should be made when members are added. Any rules determined by the membership should be distributed to all members. Rules including illness, transportation and any other issues deemed recognizable by the co-op membership should be included. Rules may be added or deleted as needed.

Babysitting cooperatives are a great organization for its members. While participation in a babysitting co-op may initially lure those looking for free babysitting services, one must realize that belonging to a babysitting cooperative does come with a price, but that price is given in time and appreciation for others who are willing to give their time and appreciation as well. Babysitting cooperatives create bonds and networks for families, and this supports a better world for all children and families involved.