Sample Babysitting Cooperative Agreement
A community babysitting cooperative often refers to an arrangement in which families share child care without any money changing hands. Instead, the care itself is the currency of exchange. For example, in many babysitting cooperatives, families earn points for providing care and spend points on care for their own kids. Points are typically assigned to each half hour or hour of care.
Your co-op should have written policies and a standard agreement that each new member must sign before requesting or providing care. A sample agreement, including the co-op’s policies, is below. Try to keep your policies and agreement as simple as possible to start with. You can always add more rules later when you see how things are going and what’s actually happening in your group.
Sample Babysitting Cooperative Agreement
This agreement is between all members of the Montclair Babysitting Cooperative. By signing this agreement, each member agrees as follows:
1. Our purpose is to help each other by providing occasional child care for one another’s children.
2. We’re starting with seven families. The maximum number of families who can participate is ten. The minimum is four, and if we have fewer than that and can’t engage new members within a month of dropping to that level, we’ll disband.
3. Each member family begins with 20 points, which can be exchanged with other member families for child care. Each point is worth 30 minutes of child care and each 30 minutes of child care is worth one point, with two exceptions:
On legal holidays, the points are doubled—that is, each half-hour of care is worth two points.
For overnight care—care provided between9 p.m.and8 a.m.—each half-hour of care is worth half a point.
4. No extra points are given for meals prepared for someone else’s child in our home. Children with special food needs will bring their own food unless the families agree otherwise. We all agree to be mindful of any special food needs, especially allergies, that we’re notified of.
5. We’ll have an administrator who will keep track of each family’s points and arrange for care when a family requests it. Each family will provide the administrator with emergency information, including contact numbers, the name and number of the family’s doctor, and important medical information about their child(ren) (such as information about medicine the child is taking or allergies). The administrator will compile this information and distribute a copy to each family. Each time a new member family joins or any family’s contact information changes, the administrator will distribute a new information list.
6. The first administrator will be Sharon Rule. She’ll serve starting onSeptember 1, 2009, until the next person, Frank Putter, takes over onMarch 1, 2010. At our regular meeting in June, 2010, we’ll decide who will take over from Frank in September of 2010. If either Sharon or Frank isn’t able to do the job, we’ll meet and choose another person.
7. The administrator will earn points for time spent on administrative duties at the same rate as the rate for child care—for each 30 minutes spent, the administrator earns one point. The administrator won’t get any other compensation.
8. The administrator’s duties are to maintain and distribute membership records, including contact information; to take requests for care and match the requesting family with a family able to provide care; to keep records of each family’s points earned and spent; and to report to the group each month on each family’s point total and any changes to contact information. The administrator agrees to act on all requests for care within 24 hours of receiving them. If that doesn’t happen, the participant who needs care can contact another family directly, but should later report their transaction to the administrator.
9. We’ll meet on the second Tuesday of every January and June to review the records, consider new members, and discuss how things are going. Meetings will be held at theMontclairCommunity Centerin the evening, and the administrator is responsible for reserving the room.
10. We all agree that if anyone in our family is sick, we won’t ask for or offer child care in our home without fully explaining the circumstances. Each family should feel comfortable declining to provide care for a sick child. We will take every precaution to avoid spreading the sickness.
11. If any family has concerns about the care being provided by another family or thinks another family shouldn’t be in the co-op, or if any conflicts arise between any of us that we can’t work out privately, we agree that we’ll all get together to discuss it. If we need to, we’ll hire someone from the community mediation center to help us with that discussion. If our dues aren’t enough to cover the cost, we’ll all chip in.
12. Each family will pay dues of $20 per year, in cash, to cover the cost of the room for our meetings, a mediator (if we need one), and any supplies involved in the administrator’s work. The administrator will keep track of the money and pass it along to the next administrator, with an accounting of money collected and paid out during the administrator’s term.
13. To bring in a new member family, we must all agree. To join, the family must live within the city limits ofMontclairand must agree to these policies.
14. Each family agrees to maintain homeowners or renters insurance on their residence that covers accidents and injuries occurring there.
15. Anyone can leave the group at any time by notifying the administrator. However, a family that owes time to the group must make themselves available for child care until the time owed is used up.
Each person’s signature below indicates consent to all terms of this agreement.
Are you a child care facility?
You may think that providing occasional care for a few neighborhood children doesn’t make you a child care provider, but your state could see things differently. Many states provide that someone who provides care for more than a minimum number of children, or more than two or three unrelated children, must be licensed and meet other requirements. If you’ll be providing child care in an informal setting with other families, make sure that your group either complies with the state’s requirements—for example, by getting licenses—or that your group is small enough or otherwise structured to fit within an exception to the state’s law. You can find out your state’s rules at the website of the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Childcare and Early Education.
This post has is adapted from: The Sharing Solution: How to Save Money, Simplify Your Life & Build Community, by Janelle Orsi and Emily Doskow (Nolo 2009)