Babysitting Cooperative

Child-Care Choices Guide

Basics

If you ever watched your neighbor's kids and then she returned the favor by watching yours, you've participated in the most rudimentary form of the babysitting co-op. This type of child care is generally used for occasional babysitting, although some full-time child care cooperatives have emerged using a cooperative business model. Parents in a neighborhood get together and design a simple system (usually using points or coupons) by which they will exchange babysitting hours and keep records so that every family can benefit from the co-op and parents have numerous people to call on when the need arises.

 

What you might like about this choice

 

  • Babysitting budget = $0.00.

 

  • The co-op is neighborhood-based, so you and your children get to know other kids and parents.

 

  • Babysitting co-ops are simple and popular, so there are plenty of models to choose from.

 

Drawbacks

  

  • In general, co-ops focus on occasional babysitting, not full-time child care needs. (And the ones that do take on full-time care involve such complications as capital investment and boards of directors.)

 

  • The success of cooperatives relies on how committed the participants are, which can vary considerably from co-op to co-op.

 

  • You should always have the right to refuse the services of a particular sitter. However, this can lead to hurt feelings and tension among neighbors.

 

  • You have an obligation to provide sitter services yourself in these no-cost co-ops.
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