Is a Teacher Allowed to Babysit for a Preschool Parent?

Hiring your child's preschool teacher to babysit raises moral and legal issues.
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Whether you need a night out or have to work on a weekend day, finding a babysitter isn't the easiest of tasks for most moms. Trusting your little one to just anyone is not an option. Instead of putting out an ad or working with a service and interviewing dozens of candidates who you still aren't entirely sure of, opting to go with your child's preschool teacher can look like an easy solution to your babysitting woes.

1 School Policies

Whether your preschooler goes to a half-day program or is in a full-on 10-hour a day care center, most schools have some sort of policy in place about using their staff as babysitting help. The policies aren't typically the same types of policies as you would see in licensing regulation or accreditation policies (e.g., staff to child ratio). While these policies are often written somewhere, they might also be spoken or implied. In some cases, the school might even ask you to sign a waiver that releases them from any responsibility for the teacher.

2 Whom to Ask

If you are really serious about using your little one's favorite teacher as your evening out sitter, but have some qualms about poaching her from the school, go straight to the source. Unless the teacher is a new hire, she should know if the school allows or doesn't allow staff to moonlight for the parents. In the case that she doesn't know or appears unsure -- watch out for the telltale, "I really don't know, but it's probably OK" -- ask the school's director. The preschool director's job is to know all of the rules, regulations and policies. She should know because she probably helped to make many of them. If all else fails, ask the teacher or director to look up the answer in a human resources rule book.

3 Boundaries

If a policy isn't in place or the preschool's policy does allow for teachers to act as babysitters after their work days are over, boundaries can quickly become an issue. Just because a teacher is technically allowed to babysit, it doesn't always mean that you should allow it. Sure, it's easy to simply extend the school day and bring the teacher home with you, but that can confuse children. Consider whether your child can manage following Miss Myra's rules in pre-K tomorrow if she lets her stay up 30 minutes past her bedtime tonight to watch her favorite cartoon.

4 Time Issues

Another issue that might affect the school's choice to lend out their top teachers to parents is time. Not all kids go to preschool -- especially if it is more of a day-care program -- during the same hours. If you schedule your child until 3 and the center stays open until 6 p.m., don't count on her teacher taking her home to sit for a few hours. Even if you wait until after-school hours, time can still edge it's ugly head into your babysitting plans. Her teacher has an obligation to stay at school until the last child goes home. Just because the school day is supposedly over at 6 p.m., don't expect that she is allowed to leave on the dot.

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.