Benefits of a babysitting co-op

Every parent knows that childcare can be expensive. In fact, the average working family with children under the age of 13 spends about 10 percent of their income on childcare expenses. I caught up with my friend Nikole at the ballpark the other day to talk with her about an alternative to paid childcare. Nikole is the founder and long time member of a successful babysitting co-op. A babysitting co-op is a way for families to exchange childcare. Simply put, a co-op is a system that allows families to organize and trade babysitting with other members. One of the benefits of a belonging to babysitting co-op is that it builds a sense of community—both for the children and the parents. Because members exchange time instead of money, co-op members can also save a lot of money. To start a successful co-op, Nikole recommends that you do a lot of research. There are many online resources as well as a few books on the subject. Talking to members of existing co-ops can be very helpful; Nikole has provided support and guidance to at least three other co-ops in her area. And while Nikole is too humble to say this, I believe the success of a co-cop has a lot to do with having strong and dedicated leadership (Niokle's co-op has bylaw and even a mission statement!) As wonderful as co-op membership can be, it is not for everyone. I know because I am a failed member of Nikole’s co-op. Because I needed about 20 hours of childcare per week, I found that I was either working or watching other people’s children, leaving little time for anything else. However, for people who are able to successfully participate in a babysitting co-op, I think it is a wonderful alternative to paid childcare.

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.
  • The National Council of Higher Education Resources (NCHER) is the nation’s oldest and largest higher education finance trade association. NCHER’s membership includes state, nonprofit, and for-profit higher education service organizations, including lenders, servicers, guaranty agencies, collection agencies, financial literacy providers, and schools, interested and involved in increasing college access and success. It assists its members in shaping policies governing federal and private student loan and state grant programs on behalf of students, parents, borrowers, and families.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.