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Monday, December 22, 2008

Babysitting Clubs

Posted by Bel
from Spiral Garden

Whilst the Co-Op Blog is undergoing some changes, I thought I'd pop in with a timely post. With all of the end-of-year holiday celebrations happening in many parts of the world around now, childcare is something you might need to consider...

A babysitting club is one way to organise a fair system of reciprocal childcare. By formalising childcare arrangements everyone’s needs are better met. Each club will develop its own rules, devised by members at an initial meeting. Each club requires a secretary to keep records of members and points exchanged. Clubs are most often set up between a group of friends, but could also be created between families within a neighbourhood, kindergarten or by advertising locally. Obviously, when the other families are not well known to you, meetings will need to be held initially, until the children are comfortable with each other and their carers.

Here is a list of one club’s rules:
- Organise your own babysitter from the contact list. Ring secretary to arrange payment of points (handy to keep a standard record sheet for all members). Keep your own personal record to check against the quarterly statement. An administration fee may be charged by the secretary, or members may take turns keeping records.
- If children are being cared for over a mealtime, supply children’s meals and snacks (unless otherwise arranged).
- Remember to inform babysitter of any health problems, allergies, rules and contact phone numbers.
- Everyone’s points balance starts at zero. Members should attempt to establish a zero or positive balance before leaving the club.
- Prospective members are required to turn up to a meeting or social get-together to meet other members.

- For the first child – at carer’s home: 2 points per half hour – at child’s home: 3 points per half hour.
- For subsequent children – “half price”.
- Double points after midnight.
- An example: Sue cares for Mary’s two children at Mary’s for 2 hours. Mary pays Sue 18 points, being 12 points for the first child (3 points x 4 half hours) and 6 points for the second child (@ “half price”).
- The points are not dollars, and are only redeemed through reciprocal care.
- When leaving the club you forfeit any points owing to you. Please try not to leave the club owing points.

Members List
- Requires name, partner’s name, children’s names, address, all contact numbers.
- Distributed to each member and kept up-to-date.
- Personal information may be left off if the club is large, for security.

Babysitting clubs are a way of sharing resources fairly amongst like-minded friends. They allow members to access the childcare they need in a system that ensures reciprocal benefit.


Green Bean said...

I've always thought that these kinds of clubs are GREAT ideas! I've never actually participated in one - I need to find a family that can handle my wild and crazy boys and then I would totally do it.

michaela said...

I recently started a babysitting co-op in my neighborhood, and it's going extremely well. Our setup is pretty similar to what you describe; the only major difference is that we start with a balance of 40 points, and everyone is encouraged to keep their balance positive.

In addition to providing free quality childcare, this concept also builds tighter bonds within communities - it's an excellent idea.

rhonda jean said...

Hi Bel. When my boys were little, I was part of a babysitting club. It worked really well as my boys were looked after by people they knew and always had other children to play with. We had a rule that new parents were invited to the club by existing members so we always had parents who were known well by at least one family. It's a great way to organise a reliable babysitters and it costs nothing.

han_ysic said...

Our local Community Exchange, similar to LETS allows you to do almost the same thing within the structure of the group. You could check if there is one in your area.

Bel said...

I am also the local co-ordinator for a LETS group, han_ysic. We have recently converted our 18 year old system over to and I think it's great!

Electronic Goose said...

This is a great idea, and just in time for me (I have a 6-month old)! Good for parents, the community building, and socializing for the kids. Thanks for sharing.

Pyotr Patrushev said...

I have a friend who is thinking of starting or joining a babysitting club. She is concerned as to how members are checked re their suitability and background. It seems that one needs to know the parents and the child reasonably well and even something about their background and values to entrust a child into their care. How do you go about this?

Bel said...

I've only ever formed a club with friends. It is suggested that if you don't know the other potential members very well that you spend time having get-togethers with the whole families attending so everyone can meet.

eag said...

Great idea! Works well within a LETS System.
The beauty of LETS systems with their home-spun ideals, the simplicity of barter and the spirit of sharing and caring make them a very valuable asset to any community.
Our LETS South group has been running for 18 years here on the Fleurieu Penisula,SA, with no signs of flagging yet.
if anyone wants info on how to get started or support email me.