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Child care co-ops 101

Is a child care co-op right for me?

Child care co-ops 101

A child care co-op is a popular option for budget-conscious parents with a large circle of friends.

In a co-op, parents take turns watching each other’s children. One parent might watch another parent’s child on, for instance, Mondays or two half-days, while another might watch the first parent’s children on a weekend evening or perhaps on Thursdays. In some groups, parents take turns watching everyone else’s children as a group while in others, they watch one family’s children at a time. This keeps the cost of child care down and keeps kids in the hands of caregivers parents trust.

If you think you’d like to start a child care co-op, consider these factors:

  • Can you and the other parents agree on a philosophy and goals?
  • Will there be a certain number of organized activities?
  • Is everyone in the group punctual and reliable?
  • What would your behavior policies be? How can parents discipline other people’s children?
  • What will the children be fed? What will their eating schedule be?
  • How will the group manage when one parent is away for vacation or an emergency?
  • How often will the parents meet to discuss the future of the group?

Once your co-op is started, make sure each parent is doing the same amount of work. When another parent is in charge of the kids, back off.

A co-op is an affordable way to provide care for your child. If you’re interested in starting one, find a group of people you trust, and work to create stringent guidelines to which you can all adhere.

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