background img

How to Start a Babysitting Co-op

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have the security of reliable childcare at a moment’s notice – day or night – from a trusted family in your neighborhood? Oh, and what if you could use funny money in exchange for the sit!? Sound like an exhausted mother’s dream…well, let me tell you ~ dreams really do come true!

A babysitting co-op. I had no clue what one was until a good friend (and neighbor) invited me to join. That was a couple of years ago, and let me tell ya, it’s been one of the best clubs I’ve ever been a part of…I can’t imagine now what I ever did without it. Being personally invited to join in this private group was key AND it was required that the invitee had known me for at least six months prior – according to bylaws! Sounds intense, but there area actually very good reasons for this level of accountability – primarily, because strangers are entrusting one another with their children!

I begin my year of service as co-op president this month and will continue until we swap roles, one year from now. My efforts will be rewarded with 15 coupons (co-op money equivalent to 15 hours of care for one child!). All members are required to participate in leadership, host meetings, coordinate playdates and swap sits. Decisions are voted upon and when something is in question, the bylaws generally provide an answer. The secure structure this co-op is founded upon sets the stage for a successful organization, and that is something I think is worthy of being shared. Below are the basics – to get you started…several other informational sources can be found online.

Bylaws Basics:

A.Membership

1. Membership will be limited to Highlands Ranch residents only.

2. The membership is limited to thirty families (unless mutually agreed upon by members).

3. Residents seeking membership shall notify any officer.

4. A registration fee of $15.00 and a coupon deposit fee of $15.00 (for a total of $30.00) will be charged to all new members at the time of joining.

5. Each Co-op member (excluding officers) shall provide 2 coupons for each term. The three officers shall divide the collected coupons equally as payment for their term. No coupons shall be removed from the treasury for this purpose. The purpose is to compensate the officers for the time each has contributed to the organization of the CO-OP.

6. When dropping membership (“resigning”), the member is expected to return all 15 hours given to her at the time of joining the CO-OP. The ex-member will receive $1.00 for every 1 hour in coupons returned (up to $15.00). If the ex-member cannot return
15 hours worth of coupons, she will forfeit $1.00 of her coupon deposit for every 1 hour not returned. Coupons above and beyond the original 15 hours will be returned to the treasury without financial reimbursement to the ex-member. Every effort should be made to return 15 full hours to the CO-OP at the time of resignation. The ex-member and an officer need to update the Coupon & Bylaw Signoff Form to reflect this financial transaction.

7. It is up to each member to use the CO-OP either as a Sitter or Gadder at least once during a four month period. If a member knows that s/he will be unable to attend, for one or more meetings, it is the member’s responsibility to communicate the
absence and reason for absence to an officer. If the member provides timely communication, no additional actions will be taken by the officers. If the CO-OP is not used during a four month period, and the member has not communicated with an officer, an officer will approach the member and remind her of the purpose of the CO-OP and to find out if there is a problem. (The officer will also attempt to contact the member’s sponsor to determine if any information is available regarding the situation.) If that member still does not participate, she will be asked to leave.

8. A member can invite an individual to join the co-op so long as the member has known the individual for a minimum of 6 months.

B. Meetings

1. Meeting/Socials will be held each month on the 1st Tuesday of every other month beginning with February (unless otherwise specified) at 7:00 pm at one of the members’ home. Members will be expected to attend all meetings. Meetings will be February, April, June, August, October and December.

2. Babysitting will be provided during the meeting. The sitter will receive the equivalent of a one (1) hour sit (depending on how many children) for that service (unless otherwise specified). The meeting host is not required to pay for babysitting, however if a member’s guest brings theirchildren, it is the member’s responsibility to pay the meeting sitter for those coupons. If there are too many children for the meeting sitter, one “back-up sitter” can be chosen from the meeting. Once the meeting has adjourned, the sitter will be relieved of her responsibilities.

C. Duties of the Officers

1. There will be the following officers for the CO-OP: a President, a Treasurer, and a Secretary. The officers’ terms will be one year. Officers will be paid one third of the coupons paid in by the members in the group, i.e., if the group has 30 members, each officer will receive 20 coupons.

2. Outgoing officers will review, finalize and disseminate the bylaws in December of each term to ensure that all changes made during their term are reflected in the bylaws.

3. Outgoing officers will organize a meeting with incoming officers to discuss officer responsibilities; whenever possible, this will be done as one collective meeting so that all officers are provided with the same information regarding bylaws, duties and paperwork processes.

4. An officer will visit with a prospective member to go over CO-OP rules and answer any questions, as well as conduct a home inspection (See new member procedure).

5. If an officer misses a meeting, the first meeting will be without penalty. The second meeting will require a 2 coupon penalty paid into the general treasury.

Other duties as follows:

President

Will run the business meetings.
Records and disseminates minutes of the business meetings.
Ensures host homes are decided for each month and updates the log of this information.
Ensures new officers are elected and updates the log of this information.
Does Meet & Greet with potential members which consists of Home Inspection, Bylaw Review (and signoff).
Receives complaints, arbitrates the matter in consult with the other officers.
Interprets the CO-OP Rules.
Receives suggestions for changes in the CO-OP and sees that any suggestions are discussed at the meetings.
Any amendments or additions to the rules will be voted on at business meetings with two thirds of the membership present approving such changes.

Treasurer

New Members:
Collect registration and coupon deposit.
Provide member with 15 hours worth of coupons upon acceptance into Co-Op and completion of all required documents.
Complete Coupon & Bylaw Signoff form.

Resigning Members:
Receive coupons and refund any applicable coupon deposit monies.
Update Coupon & Bylaw Signoff form.
Assesses money to cover expenses and keeps monetary records.
Record attendance/coupon count using the Coupon Count Form at the monthly meetings.
Organizes meals for new mothers.

Secretary

New Members:
Updates short/long sheets
Grants online access
Updates Coupon Count/Attendance spreadsheet
Creates new physical file in accordion file box. Ensures all paper forms are completed and filed.

Resigning Members:
Updates short/long sheets
Removes online access
Updates Coupon Count/Attendance spreadsheet
Shreds physical file in accordion file box.
Updates bylaws as needed
Updates officer forms as needed.

D. Hours

1. The time will be figured on the basis of one quarter (1/4) hour coupon for every 15 minutes. For convenience, there are also ½ and 1 hour coupons.

2. Each new member will be given 15 hours of babysitting time.

3. Members leaving the CO-OP must return 15 hours of coupons and all extra coupons. (See #6 under
Membership.)

4. A ¼ hour coupon will be charged for any amount of time over five (5) minutes.

5. Upon returning to the Sitter, both members will agree on the number of coupons, and payment will be made at that time.

6. If a member leaving the child(ren) will be more than a half hour late, she should phone the Sitter to advise her. If a member is more than an hour late and has not notified the Sitter, the time over the one hour grace period will be figured as double time.

7. Time is calculated as per chart below: (omitted for FB edition)

E. Emergency Medical Forms

1. Each member shall fill out an Emergency Medical Form for their child(ren).

a. The hospital recommends that each form be signed and dated with the child’s date of birth, names of parents, address, telephonenumber, social security number of each parent, employer of each parent, and anyallergies or medical problems the child
may have. A copy of the information on your insurance card (front and back) would be helpful.

2. Sitters are encouraged to contact the Gadder’s pediatrician to see what they will need to be able to treat the child(ren).

3. Gadders should leave the number of a relative or close friend to contact in case of an emergency.

F. Arranging a Sit

1. Each member is encouraged to consult the hour count list or contact the Secretary to find members low or needing hours. Members will contact another member to arrange a sit.

2. Sitter or Gadder should be informed of any colds or illness in the children before making arrangements. No medicine will be given without written permission.

3. Sitter and Gadder should discuss lunch, naps, etc. The Gadder is expected to supply a meal unless agreed upon by both Sitter and Gadder prior to arrival.

4. If Gadder has children other than her own to be left with Sitter, those children (child) will be charged separately at regular CO-OP time per extra child. Extra children should have written permission from their parents by way of emergency medical
forms.

5. Double sits (2 groups of CO-OP children with one Sitter) may be arranged if all parties agree.

G. Gadder Responsibilities

1. The Gadder will leave the phone number and name of her destination. If her plans change, she should call the Sitter and give her new location and phone number. If unavailable by phone, she will leave a phone number where a responsible person can be
notified.

2. If anyone other than the parent is picking up or dropping off the child(ren), the Sitter must be notified.

3. The Gadder will leave the emergency medical form with the Sitter.

4. Any problems (i.e., condition of Sitter’s home, disciplinary action taken, safety violations, etc.) shall be reported to a CO‑OP officer within 48 hours.

5. If Gadder must cancel a sit within 24 hours of the sit time, hours must be offered anyway. She should call 24 hours prior to the arranged time unless her children are sick. A Gadder returning early (before the time she is expected to return)
will offer hours to make up the difference. (i.e., If she expected to be gone one hour and was back after 30 minutes, she would offer compensation for one hour.)

H. Sitter Responsibilities

1. The Sitter is expected to be a responsible caretaker at all times.

2. Each member has the right to refuse to agree to sit for any reason. No explanation need be given.

3. If the Sitter knows it will be necessary to leave the house during the sit, she shall notify the Gadder that her child(ren) may be going in the car. No children should travel without a car seator a lap belt, as appropriate for their age.

4. There shall be no physical punishment of children. Misbehavior should be discussed with the child’s parent.

5. If the Sitter has to change her plans, she should call the Gadder and make a mutual agreement regarding who should find a new Sitter.

6. Sitter shall be notified in writing of any irregularities deemed by the officers (i.e.,neglect, abuse, unsanitary or unsafe conditions, or anything that would threaten the general safety of the child(ren).) Upon receiving a second written complaint,
the member will be asked to resign from the CO-OP.

7. Any problems shall be reported to a CO-OP officer within 48 hours.

I. Home Safety Tips

1. The members of babysitting co-op shall be aware of and utilize basic home safety procedures.

2. A recommended safety checklist is available from the officers and will be distributed to each new member.

3. Children shall never be left unsupervised. Because our children are naturally curious, our members shall expect the unexpected from them and therefore make their environment as safe as possible.

 

photo: girlbabynames2011