“Could you come over and babysit this weekend?”
Families are naturally going to want teachers to babysit (which we’re defining here as ‘caring for their children outside of school hours’) their students – after all, the connections are already formed! It’s a logical jump: little Chloe loves Teacher Candace, so why not have Candace over for a few hours on Friday, and pay her for her time?
Reader, there are so many reasons why not.
Childcare during your program or center hours is different than childcare provided at the home of a student: what happens at the home will impact what happens at school. (Consider, for a moment, the shift in dynamic that might occur if Teacher Candace lets Chloe stay up 30 minutes past her bedtime and eat extra dessert.)
If a parent accuses a teacher who watched a student outside of school hours of impropriety, what would the leadership’s response be?
At the same time, a parent that is willing to pay a teacher to watch their child for a date night – and a teacher that is willing to do that work – are both grown adults who can choose what to do with their own time and money. Should your policies shut down a potential side-hustle for your staff? (Consider, for a moment, if there’s any way you can work to make sure your staff doesn’t need a side hustle to make ends meet. Not saying there is – we know what the cash flow in this field looks like.)
Some centers choose to provide a waiver for parents and teachers that decide to enter a separate business transaction, such as babysitting. This can ideally remove you from any liability, but can’t prevent what happens during those babysitting sessions from impacting the school day.
This writer’s suggestion is that teachers at your center should be extremely dissuaded from babysitting children that are currently enrolled, but that’s because this writer wouldn’t want to deal with the headache. Maybe you do, and that’s okay! The samples below can help you navigate what sounds best for your own personal situation.
Where To Include
At Playvolution HQ, we recommend programs have three handbooks–a Parent Handbook, a Staff Handbook, and an Operating Handbook. Consider adding this policy to your Operating Handbook.
- Be ready and able to justify your decision either way, because you’re going to get questions about it.
- Look up what a “hold harmless agreement” is, and think about if that’s a good compromise for your program.
- If you have a policy against babysitting and a teacher and family choose to do so anyway, what will your next steps be?
- Think about how much control (ethically and legally) you have over what employees do on their own time.
Disclaimer: These are sample policies intended for use as a guide in policy development. Your program’s policies should be unique to your program and reflect the program’s culture, practices, and the regulations in your area.
1. Bright Horizons does not support or sanction the practice of families engaging the services of any of Bright Horizons’ employees for babysitting.
2. In the event that the Teacher is engaged by the Family to babysit, Bright Horizons does not, in any way, warranty or guaranty the suitability of the Teacher for this purpose. Bright Horizons shall not be responsible, in any way, for such arrangement nor shall Bright Horizons be responsible, in any way, for any disputes of any kind and nature, which may arise between you, including any claims, injury, or damage to the Family, their minor child/children, the Teacher or either’s property.
3. While engaged by the Family as a babysitter, the Teacher shall be considered an employee of the Family and not an employee of Bright Horizons. Any activities or events that occur during such babysitting services, including but not limited to any transportation to and from the Center, are outside Teacher’s responsibilities and duties as an employee of Bright Horizons. By signing below, the Family, on behalf of themselves and their minor child/children, and the Teacher hereby agree to release, hold harmless, and indemnify Bright Horizons Family Solutions, Inc., and their subsidiaries, affiliates and employees for any claims, injury, or damage of any kind and nature arising therefrom.
Bright Horizons Family Solutions, USA
We discourage center staff members from accepting extracurricular baby-sitting jobs from parents at our centers. Our teachers are childcare professionals and deserve to be treated as such and should not be viewed as babysitters by parents. In addition, after spending a busy day with children at the center, all staff members need free time away from the children and vice-versa. We must ensure that all children and parents at the center are treated equally. Teachers who baby-sit the same children could naturally display favoritism toward those children or parents, however unintentional. Such favoritism is unfair to the rest of the children and parents, and would be considered disruptive and unethical behavior.
Babysitting for an ABC Academy, Inc. or ABC Academy Center, Inc. will be permitted as long as the following conditions are met:
• In no way will any extracurricular baby-sitting arrangement be permitted to interfere with the daily operation of the center. Parents and staff members must make all such arrangements on their own time away from the center. Staff members will not be permitted to accept or make telephone calls for this purpose.
• Extracurricular baby-sitting will not be allowed to interfere with the employee’s ability to perform his/her duties at the center.
• Under no circumstances will staff members be permitted to take children home from the center.
• Staff members are prohibited from babysitting during ABC Academy’s operating hours.
• Staff members MAY NOT discuss any aspect of the business of ABC Academy with a family.
• Staff members will not solicit customers from ABC Academy, Inc. either for baby-sitting, in-home childcare, to nanny for, or for any other reason.
• ABC Academy will not be held responsible for any actions or circumstances resulting from any
interaction between its staff members and customers that occur away from the center.
• ABC Academy reserves the right to direct any employee to terminate any baby-sitting arrangement that
ABC Academy determines is not in the best interest of, or is having a negative impact on, the center, its staff members, or clients.
We realize that some teachers enjoy baby-sitting and need the extra income that they earn from doing so. We encourage our teachers to baby-sit for families that do not attend ABC Academy.
ABC Academy, Michigan, USA
While there is no prohibition regarding employees babysitting during off hours for our customers, it is imperative the employee informs parents in such arrangements that the employee is not acting as an employee or agent of the center in doing so. The employee must also inform the parents that the center expressly disclaims any involvement, interest, or responsibility, for such arrangements. The employee further agrees not to engage in babysitting or nanny services for our customers which results in withdrawal of any children from the center throughout the term of their employment and for SIX months following termination of employment. Parents and employees should refrain from making arrangements during center business hours. If a parent habitually calls, texts or contacts an employee during business hours or during inappropriate hours of the day, the director should be notified.
Joyful Noise Christian Day Care, Michigan, USA
Have a Parent, Staff, or Operating handbook you’d like to share with us for use in our policy samples? You can upload PDFs here.
Thoughts on this topic? Share them in the comments, we’d love to know what you think.
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