In 2010 Seattle parents Erica Zidel and Ted Tieken launched the website Sitting Around, which offers online tools to help families start, grow, and manage babysitting coops.
On the site, parents have the ability to search for and request to join existing coops, or to start their own groups. When they need a sitter, they create a "new sit request," which is sent to all members of the group. Those who are available may respond to the request. Each time a parent provides childcare for another coop member, they receive points, which helps ensure a level of equity among members.
As with any childcare situation, Zidel recommends that parents meet the other parents before allowing them to join the group. Some coops hold monthly play dates to meet with prospective new members, while others schedule interviews.
There is a nominal fee to join the website, but for the service provided, many Seattle parents are more than willing to shell out $5 a month or $15 for an entire year. Sitting around also included a more traditional babysitting site, which has since been moved to it's own domain, sittersnearme.com.
To learn more about Sitting Around, visit www.sittingaround.com.