Madison East Side Babysitting Coop GUIDELINES

Babysitting Co-op Guidelines and Tips

Developed by the East Madison Babysitting Co-op

Updated October 2010


Large popsicle sticks are used to pay for babysitting hours. 

  • Craft sticks are stamped with an identifying mark so that one doesn’t mix their child’s craft supply with their babysitting supply
  • Value:
    • When providing care for ONE CHILD, one stick is worth 30 minutes.   Therefore one hour of sitting for one child costs 2 sticks.
    • When providing care for TWO CHILDREN, one stick is worth 20 minutes.  Therefore one hour of sitting for two children costs 3 sticks.
    • When providing care for THREE CHILDREN, one stick is worth 15 minutes.  Therefore one hour of sitting for three children costs 4 sticks. 
  • When a family joins the co-op, families with one child start with 20 sticks (10 hours), families with two children start with 30 sticks (10 hours), etc.   When a family adds a new child, they receive 10 additional sticks for their base supply.


Tip:Don’t allow people to offer to pay a higher rate for someone picking up their job, but allow people to sweeten the pot in other ways, like, “my kids will be ready for bed, all you have to do is read books”.


Tip:Find the best form of communication for your group.  Set up guidelines on how communication works.

  • All requests/offers should include the family’s parameters (Has to be at my house, want to drop the kids off at your house, youngest will need a nap, kids will be in bed, etc.)
  • Our simple email subject rules (used when we first set-up the co-op):
    • Need a sitter?  Subject line:  REQUEST:  (Family Name): (DATE):  (TIME)
    • Looking for sticks and want to offer a time to sit?:  Subject line:  OFFER:  (DATE):  (TIME)
    • Someone took your request and you want to let everyone know?  Subject line:  TAKEN: (Family Name): (DATE):  (TIME)
  • System for our google application (set-up by a co-op member, Thanks Tim!):
    “Provider” refers to the family offering to or providing care for the Requestor’s child(ren).
      If you need a babysitter, you submit a request via our google application stating your need.  For example, a requester needs a sitter at their house on a Saturday night, from 6:00 pm to 11:00 pm. They create a request that has these details and includes other specifics or preferences that they have, like my son will need to do his homework, or my baby will need to nap from 1:00 to 3:00 pm, or prefer this at your house but no pets because my daughter is allergic,  etc.
      A member of the group who is able to help, makes an offer through the google application.  The requester is not required to pick the first person that responds to the request.  However, the general practice has been, and will remain, to accept the first most acceptable offer given by a Provider.  The Requester accepts via the google application.
      If you need sticks, you can put out an offer over the app (put in a regular request, but put OFFER in the request).  Add details about your offer, such as at your house or at the child's home the number of hours, etc.
      If no one is answering your request, you can change your offer, make it shorter, be flexible in the location, etc. Likewise, if you have floated an offer that no one has accepted, you can loosen up the parameters, change it from Friday night to over the weekend, etc.




Quarterly gatherings/meetings are held.  All families and family members are expected to participate.  Attendance is limited to member families and prospective member families.  

Gatherings are a way for the children and adults to get to know each other better.  Gatherings start with a meeting which includes one adult from each family.  75% of family representation is considered a quorum.  Meetings are used to discuss agenda items submitted by any member of the co-op.  At the end of each meeting, officer positions are assigned for the next meeting.

Following the meeting, our Co-op has a lovely potluck/mayhem.

Tip:Have copies of the guidelines present and a record of the co-op activity if you have minimum requirement rules.


A team of people will be responsible for Co-op administrative duties and social planning for three-month terms, on a volunteer basis.  


·         make sure member families have updated profiles, including phone numbers and information on familiesincluding phone numbers and information on families

·         Create agenda and facilitate next meeting (including taking notes, writing up policy changes, etc.)


·         The host is in charge of securing a date and location for the following/gathering. Many of our gatherings are held at a local community center. 


Policies may be made, abolished or changed through electronic or in-person votes, as long as we have a quorum (representation by 75% of member families).  In the event of electronic voting, voting will be open for a minimum of two weeks (with the period to be designated at that time) and the presence of a quorum will be determined by how many families vote during the designated period.


If a requester cancels an engagement with less than a week prior, half sticks will be provided to the scheduled provider.  Alternate arrangements can be made to reschedule in lieu of half payment.


Each member family must make a request at least twice and offer to provide care at least twice during each three-month period.   (Families with new babies are given a one quarter break from these requirements.)  This is tracked through a report from the google application and reviewing at quarterly meetings.  Those who do not meet the requirements are contacted by the secretary immediately following the meeting and asked if they would like to continue to participate.  They are then asked to meet the requirements for the following quarter or to submit a reason for a waiver.  If they decide that the co-op is not a good fit for their family, a family on the wait list is contacted for the next meeting (see below).

New member families must be recommended (and vouched for) by a participating family.  New members must attend a Co-op Quarterly Social.  After the social, Co-op families are surveyed and 100% of Co-op families must vote in favor of the new family.  The current limit is 15 families.  There are no geographic boundaries for families.    New families interested in joining the co-op can be vouched for at a Quarterly Meeting.  At the meeting, names will be drawn to be put on a waiting list.  If the new family cannot attend the quarterly meeting, then the next family on the wait list will move up into their place.    Only one family can be added per quarter.

Each meeting, the members of the Co-op will review the number of families in the Co-op.


·         Presence of firearms in the home will be included on the contact list.  The group expressed the need for trigger locks and keeping any weapons unarmed when a member family is acting as a Provider. 

·         While acting as a Provider, smoking is allowed outside the home only. 

·         Should any medical emergency arise, call 911 immediately.  Allergy, emergency information and hospital preference should be included on the contact list.  Each family should have emergency medical information as well as an emergency waiver posted at their home.

·         The presence of pets will be listed on the contact list. 

·         There is no problem with the presence of adults (other than the Providers) in the home, trusting good judgment.