Posting about Pods

What is a Pod?

During the 2020 Covid pandemic many parents are looking to form "pods" with other families where socialization and/or distance learning support can take place in a smaller group of kids than in a daycare, preschool, or school. BPN provides a forum for parents to find pods, but we also support state licensing regulations so we do not accept some types of posts. 

Where to Find Pods on BPN

Posts that BPN Accepts

These pods are not required to be licensed as childcare facilities by the State of California:

  1. Pods that are nanny shares. 
  2. Pods for school-aged children (K-12) that support distance learning.  
  3. Pods where all parents are present at all times.
  4. Pods where parents take turns and no money changes hands.

Posts that BPN does NOT Accept

BPN does not accept posts about group care for children under 5 that is required to be licensed but isn't. Please see our page about Childcare Licensing in California for details about when a license is required. 

  1. Your pod is an unlicensed home daycare if:
    • The pod takes place at the home of the teacher/childcare provider, and
    • The pod includes children under 5 years old, and
    • It is drop-off: parents don't stay with their child, and
    • Families are charged a fee

  2. Your pod is an unlicensed preschool if
    • A teacher is hired for a pod that includes children under 5 years old, and
    • The pod is not at the teacher's home, and
    • Families are charged tuition or fees, and
    • The pod sounds like a preschool, not a nanny share.  See Pods that BPN considers to be preschools

Are pods legal?

For children under five who are being cared for in a group, most situations require a childcare license from the State of California, although there are exceptions as noted below. For details, see What kinds of programs need a license?

Pods that are not required to be licensed:

  1. Nanny share: The State does not require a childcare license for care that takes place in the home of the child. Therefore nanny shares are not required to be licensed. See Why isn't a nanny share the same as a daycare? for more information.

  2. Parent exchanges: If parents take turns watching/supervising/teaching the children, and no money changes hands, a license is not required.

  3. Playgroups: If every child has a parent or guardian present, a license is not required.

  4. School-aged children: Programs "of an instructional nature" that take place when school is not in session do not need to be licensed. (Note: after-school childcare does need a license.)

Pods that DO need a license:

  1. Children under 5 are being cared for at a site that is not someone's home. This is considered a preschool or childcare center and a "Child Care Center" license is required.

  2. Children under 5 are being cared for at the home of the teacher or childcare provider. This is considered a home daycare and a "Family Child Care Home" license is required.

  3. Children under 5 are being cared for at the home of one of the children, but the teacher or childcare provider does not live there.  This situation, usually called a nanny share, is not covered by state licensing regulations so it is not illegal. However BPN does not accept posts about pods for children under 5 that are being operated as though they are preschools. See Pods that BPN considers to be preschools.

Posts that require a paid subscription

The free parent subscriptions cannot be used to offer paid services on BPN. If you are posting about childcare or tutoring that you offer yourself, please purchase a subscription.

  1. Offering paid childcare: please subscribe as a nanny
  2. Offering paid lessons or tutoring: please subscribe as a tutor

Pods that BPN considers to be preschools

BPN accepts posts about nanny shares for children under 5, unless the nanny share is described as if it is a preschool.

If any of the following characteristics is present in your post, BPN will consider it to be an unlicensed preschool and will not accept your post:

  • Someone other than one of the parents is organizing the pod, or 
  • There is a preschool philosophy for the pod, such as Reggio, Montessori, or Forest School, or
  • There is a preschool-like curriculum, such as reading lessons, STEM, language immersion, or
  • There is a schedule with regular preschool-like activities such as a daily circle time, or
  • There are more than 3 children in the pod, or
  • The parents are contracting with a business to provide the teacher or set the tuition or curriculum

Isn't a nanny share the same as a home daycare?

Nanny shares and home daycares have a lot in common:
  • They both take place in someone's home.
  • There is a paid childcare provider looking after multiple children. 

It might seem unfair to a licensed daycare that they are required to be licensed while a nanny share isn't, especially when the same number of children are being cared for. 

But there are some important differences between a nanny share and a daycare:

  1. Law: State law does not regulate childcare that takes place in the child's own home that is provided by someone who doesn't live there. In contrast, the California Child Day Care Act defines a daycare as "a facility that regularly provides care, protection, and supervision for 14 or fewer children, in the provider’s own home...while the parents or guardians are away..." and further, "A small family daycare home or large family daycare home is where the daycare provider resides."  (section 1596.78) Therefore, babysitters and nannies who come to the child's home are not required to be licensed.

  2. Business owner vs. employee: A daycare is a business that is owned by the childcare provider, who sets the hours, fees, policies, and practices of the business. But a nanny is the employee of the parent. It is the parent, not the nanny, who determines the hours, fees, policies, and practices. Unlike in a daycare, in a nanny share the parents are not running a childcare business; they are hiring someone to work in their homes while they are working themselves.

  3. Taxes & insurance: The daycare owner pays taxes on her income as a small business. The parent is required to register with the state EDD as an employer, report the nanny's earnings, and withhold worker's comp, unemployment insurance, etc. The daycare owner may also have employees, but she is a childcare business whereas a parent who hires a nanny is not a childcare business.

  4. Safety: The intent of the State regulations is to ensure that the site where childcare takes place is safe for children. Licensed childcare facilities are inspected regularly and must meet a number of safety requirements that are defined by the State. These laws give parents basic protections when their children are away from home. But in the case of a nanny share, it is the hosting parent who assumes responsibility for the safety of the home, and it is up to the other participating parents to decide whether they are satisfied with the level of safety.