Kent Dahlgren
4 min readDec 29, 2020

(Community Design) Childcare Co-op: a Neighborhood-Level How-To

Many of us rely upon our employers or spare income to secure safe and reliable childcare options, but when we are out of work, or under-employed, these options become limited.

In the old days, we relied upon family members to fill the gap, but due to a variety of factors, this is less common.

So what do we do?

A community that has structured itself utilizing our community activation app might pursue something like a childcare co-op in the following manner:

Verified identities

Our community activation app includes seven features essential to a self — managed community, and the first is digital identity, and identity verification.

In short, people cannot participate in the community until they have applied for membership, have verified their identity, and have been approved by a community administrator.

A community that has decided to create a child care co-op might go a step further, requiring that those who would like to participate in the childcare co-op must provide verification that they are safe.

And, the aspiring new member must verify their identity, which would ensure that there are no fake accounts.


“Can you watch my kids for a couple of hours this afternoon?“

This kind of inquiry might be delivered within a one on one chat, or group chat, or listed in the marketplace, which is closed to all but those who have verified their identity and have been admitted by the community administrator.


All proposed exchanges and collaborations are formalized in the community activation marketplace, within what we call an “agreement.“

Each agreement makes it absolutely clear what is expected and required, to minimize confusion or misunderstandings.

Payment / exchange

Payment is built-in, and so each party is able to exchange funds for services that have been agreed-upon, and here’s an interesting twist:

When the community has matured sufficiently, it might adopt a community script, so it might be possible to pay for childcare, utilizing a community voucher which might have been earned through other contributions to the community.

In other words: you could pay with US dollar, and/or you could pay with a community script that might have been earned from another member of the community, or through acts of service and charity to the community as a whole.

In this manner, even the most cash-poor members of the community are able to gain access to high-quality childcare, simply through a recognition of their service to their own community.


Every completed agreement is evaluated by each party, taking into account various factors, and in this manner each participating member of the community activation marketplace builds a reputation score, based upon merit and performance.

In this manner, those within the community who are disproportionately gifted are recognized as such.

In this manner, people who are normally overlooked (such as seniors) might reveal qualities that the community comes to realize are highly important, such as a natural affinity for working with certain types of children (such as those with tactile or sensory integration disorders).


Occasionally, disputes will occur, and these disputes are addressed within the communities own arbitration solution, facilitated within the community activation app.

What happens if a participant within the community childcare co-op violates the rules?

That’s up to the community.

The member might be required to attend classes, they might be required to stop participating within the child care co-op, or they might be removed from the community altogether.

It’s up to the community administrators.

Over time, the community might find it advantageous or desirable to formalize their child care co-op in a manner which resembles a highly structured operation, and for that reason and more, our community activation app includes the seventh feature necessary for autonomy:


Within the context of our community activation app, governance is primarily characterized as:

  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Access and permissions
  • Policies and procedures

Over time, the community might decide to evolve and mature its policies and procedures in such a manner that more formally resembles a licensed childcare entity.

Ultimately, these too are codified as a number of agreements, ensuring that people do what they say they will do, and when, within defined parameters.

What happens if a person fails to deliver upon their commitments? What if that person has been elected to serve in a position of administrative responsibility?

Again, every agreement is evaluated for merit and performance within the reputation system, rendering all performance transparent, accountable, and easy to audit.

If the person has not delivered upon expectations, they can be voted out and replaced by another member of the community, with the upfront understanding of what’s expected of them.

That too is governance.

The solution has been under our noses all along: our community.

Kent Dahlgren

Product management fix-it guy. World-famous people skills. Extremely small hands. (edit) marketing lady says I’m also supposed to say “CEO of software company”