Last updated September 30, 2020
If you are considering employing a part-time or full-time caregiver to take care of your child, you should ensure the safety of your little one by performing a background check during the interview process. Background checks can be time-consuming and come with monetary costs, so it's sometimes tempting to wave it off when you've found a candidate you think is perfect. However, this is someone who will be your potential long-term nanny and responsible for your child so it's important to do your due diligence.
If you're working with a nanny agency or a nanny service, they typically do some level of background checks on their own. You should work with them to learn more about their process and determine if it's comprehensive enough for you.
Due to the associated costs, it's best to push the background check towards the end of the hiring process. It's recommended you initiate the process only after you've decided the canddiate is someone you would like to move forward with and employ.
Before you get started on a background check, the first thing you need to do is obtain the candidate's written permission to perform the process. This is required by the Fair Credit Report Act. There are various forms available online to assist with this and state laws can vary, so be sure to double-check the regulations for your home state.
If a candidate refuses to consent to a background check, consider this a major red flag. Keep in mind you are the employer in this scenario and have the final say. If you're not comfortable hiring someone that refuses a background check, you are under no obligation to move forward with the candidate. This is someone who will be a major presence in your life, so don't compromise.
In addition to obtaining the candidate's permission, you'll want to also ask the candidate for the following information:
Breadth and depth can vary, but a comprehensive background check for a caregiver may look like the following:
In a typical nanny relationship, you will be a household employer and are responsible for determining their work eligibility. Part of doing this will entail verifying their identity. To do this, have the nanny fill out an I-9 form and verify their identity by requesting legal documents. In addition, you can use E-Verify to confirm their eligibility and identity.
Searching Google and various social media platforms is a good way to check for red flags that won't show up in a typical background check. Search using the candidate's name and nicknames. Keep an eye out for anything that looks concerning. If you find something that makes you uncomfortable, use your best judgment to determine if it's a dealbreaker or not.
It's always a good idea to do a criminal background check. Doing this on your own can be tough, so it's recommended you find a third party to perform the checks. This will cost money, but consider it money well spent. You'll want to make sure the service is comprehensive and searches records at the county level, state level, and federal level.
Be wary of services that offer instant background checks. These are typically outdated and don't perform a comprehensive search.
Many times, families have caregivers drive their children to various appointments and activities. If this is something you plan on allowing, you should check the candidate's driving records to ensure they have a history of safe driving.
Using the addresses the candidate provides, contact all relevant state DMVs to pull driving records. States have different regulations, but records usually include convictions, violations, collisions, suspensions, and failures to appear in court.
All states have a sex offender registry that is public information and free to use. Find the registry for your state and look up your candidate to check if they have a history of any sexual abuse or crimes.
All states maintain records of child abuse and neglect. The laws vary amongst states regarding what can be disclosed, but if you live in a state where you can access this information, it's worth doing so.
You should ask the candidate for 3-4 references and perform reference checks. You'll want their contact information and knowledge about what sort of relationship the reference has to the candidate. Ideally, these are professional references that can vouch for the candidate's performance in previous child care roles. If the candidate does not have much work experience, character references can be used instead, but ask the candidate to not include friends and family.
The state of California provides a resource named TrustLine. TrustLine is a database of nannies and babysitters that have cleared criminal background checks in California. It’s the only authorized screening program of in-home caregivers in the state with access to fingerprint records at the California Department of Justice and the FBI.
You can check if a candidate is registered with TrustLine by calling the number provided on their website. If the candidate is not registered, you may request that they do so prior to you employing them. If for whatever reason the candidate refuses, you may want to view that as a red flag.
Choosing the right nanny for your little one is a big decision and it's our top priority to provide you with the best child care experience possible. Part of doing that is off-loading the burden of background checks from the parents. We run extensive background checks on all our caregivers and ensure they're the best of the best.