How to Start a Babysitting Co-op | Part 3

How to Start a Babysitting Coop | Part 3

With this post, I wrap up my series on how to start your own babysitting co-op.  Co-ops are a wonderful way to get to know dependable people in your community, expand your child’s social circles, and capture more time for yourself without spending money.

In part one, I went over how different co-ops are organized and the pros and cons of various point-tracking systems.

In part two, I talked about how to fan the flames to help create a warm, active, and successful group.

In this last part, I have collected some of the forms, by-laws, and marketing materials used by the different co-ops I have been a part of.  (Names and locations of co-ops have been changed.)  You may download these documents and, in most cases, customize them as you like.


Neighborhood-Based Co-op

The neighborhood-based co-op I went over in earlier articles defined its group by geographical boundaries.  Founded in the 1970s, its by-laws, structure, and procedures may seem formal today, but it is also one of the longest-running and most successful co-ops in this line-up.  This co-op has rotating leaders, secretaries who handle sit requests, and a point system based on cards.


Parent Association Co-op

The parent association co-op was formed within a not-for-profit organization of parents.  The group is open to families at a set of affiliated institutions in New York City, and it organizes social events, maintains play spaces, and coordinates discounted after-school activities.  The group’s babysitting co-op is semi-formal with rotating leaders and a simplified set of by-laws and procedures.  They use a website to request sits and keep track of points.

  • Interest Sign-up: for gauging interest in a new co-op & collecting contact information (click to download)
  • Roster:  A kind-of address book for member families to refer to (click to download)
  • Simple Guidelines: rules for using the co-op as well as leadership and online point tracking system (click to download)
  • Trifold Brochure (customizable document): for publicizing the co-op (click to download)
  • Trifold Brochure (printable PDF): for publicizing the co-op (click to download)


Preschool Co-op

The preschool-based co-op is one of the more informal co-ops.  Members arrange their own sits with each other via a private listserv.  Tickets are exchanged between members with no oversight.  A volunteer coordinator admits new members, distributes initial tickets, and assigns playdate hosts.

  • Co-op Info Sheet: a flyer that explains the what, who, why, and how of this co-op (click to download)
  • Child Information Sheet: a form to collect contact and health information for member children (click to download)
  • Sign-Up Sheet:  an agreement to join with an explanation of the rules (click to download)


Circle of Friends Co-op

Made up of four families who live on the same road in a small town, this group is a leaderless co-op with minimal rules.  Families update their own point counts using a shared online spreadsheet and take turns hosting potluck dinners.

I hope these resources can be helpful to you as you create your own babysitting co-op.  (See also Part 1 in this series for basics and Part 2 for tips on launching and longevity.)

One of the most important things I have learned about communities is that face-to-face interactions are essential.  Babysitting co-ops will not work unless there are high levels of trust.

Email and websites might be convenient, but they cannot replace being in each other’s presence.  So use technology sparingly, and whenever possible, give your members reasons to see and know each other.

With families often spread out all over the country, many parents need to create their own support systems.  Like passing along hand-me-downs or bringing dinner to a family with a newborn, a babysitting co-op is a valuable network that can fill essential needs while saving everyone a pretty penny.

Photo credit:  Sofia Suardi

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  • Parishia Ganjanaget September 18, 2016, 8:44 pm

    About how much does it costs to set up a group like this and what kind of licenses is needed? Please help, i live in a state where the only child care help u can get is through tanf.

    • Amy November 1, 2016, 8:41 pm

      Hello Parishia,

      It should be free to set up, and no licenses are needed. You are fellow parents watching each other’s children, like friends and relatives do.

      Best of luck,

  • Jen | Green Baby Deals May 10, 2016, 9:21 pm

    This is so great and needed in many communities. Passing along to my friend who may have the time to create one. Thanks!

  • Amy March 23, 2016, 9:47 pm

    Hi Emily,

    You are so lucky to live in a place that already has an established co-op. And Takoma Park is a special community — double the luck!

    All the best,

  • Emily March 23, 2016, 3:30 pm

    Great series of posts, Amy! They inspired me to check out my local babysitting coop (in Takoma Park, MD). Love these posts that focus on frugality and community building.