Guidelines For Babysitting Co-op Bylaws

A babysitting co-op works best when clear guidelines are in place for all participating members. We suggest creating bylaws for your co-op. Here are our suggestions for areas the bylaws should address although your co-op may choose to adopt more or less.


Wondering what a Babysitting Co-op is? Read the PSP summary HERE for definitions, resources & useful links




Define Your Group:

Stating who you are and what the exchange is for goes along way towards establishing group harmony.

  • What is the maximum number of members in the co-op?
  • Are there geographical boundaries for being in the co-op?
  • Is the co-op for members to babysit whenever they are free? Or is it a group to help one family find another family to do a one-on-one exchange between the two families?
  • What is the group’s structure? Will it use parliamentary procedure, (e.g. needing a quorum to amend rules) and how is voting structured? (Does one family with two partners get two votes or is it one vote per family?)
  • Does the co-op have a hierarchy (president, secretary, etc.?) – it may not need to as long as the group is having administrative meetings.
  • If the group is using an online site to help keep track of profiles and sit dates, be sure to state it in the bylaws.


Define A Member In Good Standing:

Spell out positive behaviors so that everyone a clear picture of best practices.

  • Is a member in good standing for paying dues on time?
  • Does using the co-op a certain number of times count as being in good standing?
  • Does providing proof of current homeowner/renters insurance count towards good standing?
  • Does bringing your children to an annual meeting of families count as being a member in good standing?
  • Spell out what infractions would take away from being a member in good standing (e.g. canceling on a sit date X number of times; not paying dues; not following safety protocols, etc.)


Outline Safety Measures:

List what precautions, if any, the co-op is taking along the lines of safety.

  • Should members maintain homeowners or renters insurance? If yes, spell out the vetting process (e.g. “At each quarterly meeting please bring a copy of the recent policy/bill”.)
  • Should members take CPR classes? Will the co-op cover such costs?
  • Are members trained to use an EPI pen for children with food allergies? (Hint: Several instructional videos on using an EPI pen can be found on Youtube.)
  • Should medical information (e.g. allergies, doctor’s phone numbers) be stored together and accessible to the group? Or is each family responsible for giving this information to the sitter at the time of the sit date?


Define Group Structure, Meetings and Dues:

The co-op should always meet in person to discuss administrative and group needs in order to create a collaborative co-op that functions.

  • How often will the group meet? How often does a member need to attend? (If you meet quarterly does a member have to attend all four, or just two meetings?)
  • Will there be an annual meeting involving all of the families with the kids or one without the kids?
  • Will the co-op have dues? If so, how much?
  • What does the money go towards? (Tip: Implementing a system of dues can help cover the cost of a subscription to an online “points” exchange.)
  • How many members will it take to amend the co-op rules?
  • Does the co-op have a hierarchy (president, treasurer, etc.)? If so, how often is the rotation and who votes?


Define What’s Expected On A Sit Date:

The co-op doesn’t have to set rules for every sit date but it should state what the general expectations are. Oftentimes parents can sit for another family if they can bring their own child along.

  • If the sitter’s child needs to come along with the sitter, how should sitter disclose this? How should the family seeking a sitter express their preference about this?
  • Establish guidelines for evening sit dates. Should there be a maximum number of hours of what’s expected for a night sit date? Is there a ceiling as to how late it can go? Or, instead, should this be on a case-by-case basis?
  • If it’s generally expected on night-sits that a sitter’s kid will not be brought along, state that.


Codify How The Co-Op Works:

It needs to be clearly stated what the reciprocity is for families participating in the co-op.

The co-op can simply be a one-for-one exchange, where each sit date, and the “return” for sitting, is defined by the families involved in that sit date. However, our experience has been an that an exchange with a point system works better because:

  • Some families have more than one child. If a mom with a single child sits for a family with two children, how is the transaction made fair for both parties? Extra points can be awarded for sitting for more than one child during the sit date.
  • Points can be used to more easily track length of time for sit dates. One point could equal 30 minutes, for example, or 15 minutes.
  • All members in good standing who pay their dues can start off the year with a set number of points (e.g. paying membership dues each year equals with 30 points).
  • If a member leaves the co-op, the points can convert into dollar value, say $2 per point. If a member leaves with less than 30 points (indicating he/she had not paid dues) that member pays the co-op $2 per point less than 30.