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Babysitting Coops

  1. What is a babysitting coop?

    Babysitting cooperatives (or coops) are community-based groups of parents who swap childcare services with one another. Instead of exchanging cash, members simply exchange sitting for sitting. Coops make sure everything nets out equitably by tracking points.

    You get points when you sit for someone else, and you spend points when others are sitting for you. The Johnsons can sit for the Browns, the Browns can sit for the Smiths, and the Smiths can sit for the Johnsons. Because you are part of a group, you never have to worry about reciprocating directly with those sitting for you - eventually, it all gets around.

  2. What is the difference between joining Sitting Around and joining a coop?

    Before you can join a coop, you must first create an account on Sitting Around. Your Sitting Around account contains information such as: login, password, and full name. Once you have created your Sitting Around account, you may request to join a coop (or you may start your own!).

  3. How do I join a coop?

    Log in to your SittingAround account and use our search form to find a coop near you. Many coops have public information pages for prospective members. If you have specific questions, you can send a message to the coop moderator. When you’re ready to join, complete the Join Request form accessed via the coop’s page.

    Received an invitation? Just click the invite link in your email and you’ll be taken directly to the Join Request form.

    Completing the Join Request form will let the moderator know you’re interested. At this point, many coops require home visits (especially if they have not met you). Join requests must be approved by the moderator before you may participate in a coop.

  4. Can I join more than one coop?

    You can only be a member of one coop at a time. You may request to join multiple coops; however, once you are admitted into a coop, all other join requests are automatically withdrawn. For this reason, we recommend you wait to hear from one coop before submitting a request to another.

  5. How do I start my own coop?

    Once you’ve created an account on SittingAround, log in and click the “Start a Coop” tab. Fill-in basic information about your new coop to help prospective members get a sense of who you are. After you’ve done that, your coop is ready to go.

    To get up and running quickly, invite other parents you know to join. You can send invitations directly from SittingAround to whatever email addresses you choose.

  6. Who can search for my coop?

    When you create your coop, you have the choice of designating it “visible” or “hidden.” Designating a coop visible means it will be searchable by prospective members. Conversely, a hidden coop will not display in search results. To request to join a hidden coop, prospects must receive an invitation from a coop member.

  7. How do I find a sitter?

    Once you’re in a coop, you will see a “New sit request” button at the top of the page. Clicking that button takes you to the Sit Request form where you fill-in basic information about what you need: date, time, number of hours, number of kids, etc.

    After you’ve created a new sit request, a message will be sent to all members of your coop. You'll be informed as members say they are available to sit for you. Once you’ve selected a sitter, you confirm your selection on the site.

  8. How do I sit for others in my coop?

    When members of your coop need a sitter, you will receive notification according to your preferences and may view the request. To respond to the request, simply log in to SittingAround and click the “Make Offer” button. Your offer will be sent to the requesting member and you will be notified if they accept your offer to sit.

  9. How do I earn points?

    Every time you provide childcare for another coop member, you receive points. Each coop sets its own rules for how points are calculated, typically based on number of children and number of hours.

    Coops often award additional points for things like sitting late at night (or early in the morning) or serving meals during a sit. Make sure you understand your coop’s rules so that you know how many points you will earn for each sit.

  10. What if I need a sitter but don’t have enough points?

    You never have to worry about stockpiling points. SittingAround’s points system lets you go negative, essentially borrowing points to be made up in the future. To make sure even new members feel welcome to use the service, many coops start new members off with a certain number of points.

  11. How are points transferred?

    Once the date for a scheduled sit has passed, the requesting member will receive an email prompt to transfer the appropriate number of points to the sitter. By clicking on the prompt in the email, the requesting member will be taken to the points transfer form. This form will be pre-populated with the amount of points to be transferred, as calculated from the initial request. If the amount of points is accurate, all the requesting member needs to do is click “transfer” and the sitting is complete.

    Fairly often, the number of points will be slightly more or slightly less than the estimate provided in the request. Maybe the requesting member ran late or maybe they only wound up needing sitting for one child instead of two. Because of this common occurrence, the points transfer form will be editable. The requesting member can adjust the number of points up or down before completing the transfer.

    In the case of a member forgetting or possibly refusing to transfer points, the sitter may appeal to the moderator. The moderator will have administrative power to intervene and resolve the dispute.

  12. I transferred the wrong number of points after a sit. Can I fix it?

    Absolutely. All transfers are fully editable for 48 hours. After that, you can either create an ad hoc transfer of points to make up the difference or reach out to the Moderator. Moderators can adjust points as needed at any time.

  13. The requesting member transferred too many / too few points to me. Now what?

  14. First, let the requesting member know. In most cases, they can either modify the existing transfer (if it’s within 48 hours) or create an ad hoc transfer to adjust as necessary. If there is disagreement over the correct number of points and the requester and sitter cannot reach agreement, you should get the Moderator involved. The Moderator will determine appropriate action.

  15. How do I let members know about an upcoming coop event?

  16. On the left navigation bar, there is a tab called "Events." Here, you can easily create a new event and let the members of your coop know about it. You can extend the invitation to prospective members if you wish, too. (Events are a great way to get to know prospective members!) SittingAround maintains a calendar of all coop events and RSVPs.

  17. Admitting new members

    The Moderator receives notification of join requests from prospective members. It is the Moderator’s responsibility to answer questions the prospect may have as well as vet the prospect according to coop rules.

    The Moderator is the only member who may formally admit a prospect into the coop. While most coops will have offline processes to vote and admit members, it is the Moderator who handles the site approval.

  18. Posting news and announcements

    The Moderator has access to edit the news and announcements section on the coop page. This is the place where information on upcoming events and meetings can be communicated to the coop.

  19. Resolving disputes

    If coop members are unable to resolve a dispute, the Moderator acts as arbitrator in settling all issues. Issues mainly arise out of point discrepancies. Moderators have the ability to both credit and debit points from any member of the coop in order to resolve a dispute.

    Moderators also have the ability to remove a member from the coop, should it become necessary. Once a member has been removed from the coop, that member may not rejoin unless re-accepted by the group.

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Subscription and Billing

  1. How much does SittingAround cost?

    You have the option of selecting either an Annual ($15 per year) or a Monthly ($5 per month) subscription. This subscription fee is per family.

    Subscription fees make it possible for us to keep the site running and allow us to develop new features that will continually improve your experience. We strive to keep our subscription fees as low as possible.

  2. Can I try it before I pay?

    Absolutely! Even though we ask for your payment info upfront, we won't charge you for 60 days. This means you have a full two months to explore the site and start participating in a coop. Aren't getting value? Simply cancel your subscription before the 60 days are up and you'll never be charged.

  3. I can't afford the subscription fee. Does that mean I can't join a coop?

    Our goal is to make coops available to as many families as possible. We never want cost to prevent anyone from participating. Because of that, we offer free accounts for members who have demonstrated financial hardship. These free accounts are fully-featured; however they may be subject to an ad-based experience. Additionally, we always ensure member privacy - no one else (not even the Moderator) can ever see if you have requested or are using a free account.

  4. Does my SittingAround subscription auto renew?

    Yes. At the end of the period, your subscription will renew unless you cancel it and your credit card will be charged at that time. Unlike some online companies that make it easy to sign up online but require elaborate procedures to cancel, we make it easy to cancel your subscription should you ever choose to.

    Should your payment information have expired, your account will have limited access to the site until your payment information and subscription is brought current. At that point, your account will be reinstated – no information about your account will be lost.

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About SittingAround

  1. How is SittingAround different from the other sitter sites out there?

    Unlike the other sites out there, SittingAround is not about sitters. SittingAround is about families and about communities. Other sites match caregivers with those seeking care. By contrast, SittingAround aims to change the way families think about childcare.

    We believe strongly in the proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Indeed, an extended support network has been shown to provide developmental benefit to children and emotional benefit to parents. At SittingAround, families form networks that provide more than just babysitting – they provide social interaction, parental support, community involvement, and friendships.

  2. More about SittingAround
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