Running a background check on a potential nanny hire is one way to ensure you’re leaving your children with a safe and reliable person.
For background checks for personal reasons, we have another recommendation here.
But if you’re looking to run a background check on a nanny, these are some ways you can do it.
How do you screen a nanny? 11 steps to run a background check on a nanny
#1. Google search
The simplest way to run a background check when you're hiring a nanny or hiring a babysitter is to Google the person’s name. Get more specific results by searching “[name] nanny” or “[name] city/state.” Or put the name in quotation marks to cut down on the volume of your results.
#2. Social media search
Search for potential nannies on social media sites such as:
Almost every social media platform has an internal search function where you can search for someone by name, email, or phone number (though you may need to create an account yourself to do so).
If the person’s profile is public, the content on their page may give you a peek into their lifestyle and professionalism.
#3. Check identification
Ask for the nanny’s driver’s license or other ID (such as a passport, or a government or military ID). A real ID should have:
- A smooth surface
- A solid feel (not flimsy)
- An unaltered image
- Text that is not blurry or smeared
Verify the cardholder’s birthdate, and ask them to confirm personal details such as their height or zip code.
#4. Schedule first interview
Set up an initial interview with the candidate you’re considering. Some families choose to host the interview in their home and let the nanny meet their children; others opt for a public place such as a coffee shop. Whatever you’re most comfortable with is fine.
Ask the nanny questions such as:
- How long have you worked with children, and what settings or environments have you worked in? What ages have you cared for?
- What are your best qualities?
- Where have you lived in the last 10 years and for how long?
- Do you have references? (both personal and professional)
- Are you willing to drive the children places as needed? How is your driving record?
- Do you have a college degree? Is it related to childcare? Have you ever taken classes in childcare?
- Where did you grow up? Are you close with your family?
- Do you have certifications in CPR, first responder training, and first aid? If not, are you willing to get them? What would be your plan in an emergency situation?
- Why do you want this job?
You should also ask questions that are specific to your child or children’s current age. For example, ask if the nanny is comfortable caring for a newborn; potty training a toddler; or assisting a middle schooler with homework help.
If you have pets, ask about the nanny’s experience caring for animals and potential allergies. Any medical needs or behavioral challenges relevant to your family should also be discussed.
#5. Schedule second, working interview
It can be helpful to set up a working interview to see how the nanny interacts with your children. This might look like a normal weekday afternoon after school; a Friday evening date night; or even a weekend trip depending on your comfort level.
Whatever the case, pay the nanny their usual rate. Then ask your children how things went. If this working interview is simple and short, you may choose to stay present in the house while the nanny interacts with your kids.
#6. Interview past employers
Ask the nanny to provide references and contact information so you can speak with their past employers. While the questions you ask might vary depending on the nature of the job, you can ask questions like:
- How long did [name] work for you?
- Why did they leave the job?
- Were they on time and honest?
- Were you pleased with their overall performance?
- Are there any concerns you’d have about this person?
#7. Interview family and friends
Ask for personal references, such as the nanny’s family members, friends, or anyone who knows them outside of work. You can speak with these people to get an idea of the candidate’s personality and character.
While personal references are obviously more biased, it’s still good to see that a person has people who are willing to vouch for them.
#8. Verify education records
If a candidate says they went to a certain school, make sure they completed the program they claim. Ask for details about their high school, college, or vocational school, such as what they studied and when they graduated. You’ll need to have them fill out a Form I-9 to verify their identity and employment authorization.
Next, use a third-party education verification service, or reach out to the school(s) yourself to verify the nanny’s graduation status.
#9. Check sex offender registry
All 50 states and the District of Columbia have sex offender registries that are open to the public. You can run a search for somebody’s name on the National Sex Offender website run by the U.S. Department of Justice.
#10. Check driving record
Ensure your children’s safety in the car by checking the nanny’s driving record. You can do this by requesting the nanny’s driving record from your local DMV. Depending on your state, you’ll likely need their:
- Driver’s license number
- A notarized authorization form releasing the record to you
#11. Use a background check website that’s FCRA compliant
If you decide to use a background check website, it’s important to select one that’s compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA helps consumers by regulating how their information can be used and accessed.
As an employer (even for a nanny), you are required to follow the FCRA when conducting a background check to avoid a potential lawsuit.
Nanny background check websites
Choose from these nanny background check websites that comply with the FCRA:
If the nanny you’re considering has a caregiver profile on Care.com (an online marketplace to find child care, elder care, and other services), they will have already completed a CareCheck conducted by the website. This includes:
- Social Security Number trace
- National Sex Offender Public Website search
- Multi-jurisdictional criminal database search
- Federal and county criminal records search
You can also request a background check on a caregiver. Care.com has a B rating (not accredited) from the Better Business Bureau.
eNannySource is another good option to run a background check on a nanny and make sure you’re complying with the FCRA. Multiple pricing tiers are available. The most comprehensive check covers:
- Over 650 million National Criminal records, including Sex Offender registries
- Social Security Number trace
- County Court records search for most recent county lived in
- Additional County Court records search for prior county lived in
- Driving Record report
- National Alias search
eNannySource has an A+ Better Business Bureau rating (not accredited).
Why run a thorough background check on your nanny (or check your own background)
Hiring a nanny is a big decision. This individual will be entering your home and spending time alone with your children. That’s why you need to make 100% sure that a nanny is who they claim — that they’re safe, trustworthy, and dependable. A background check will give you peace of mind that you’re hiring the right person.
If you’re hiring a nanny, it also doesn’t hurt to see what they might find out about you. You can follow many of the steps outlined in this article or use a FCRA compliant background check site.
If you’re not able to find enough information about your prospective nanny, check out our post on finding people online or consider using a private investigator (PI), who can conduct extensive background checks on your behalf. He or she may also run surveillance to make sure the person you’re considering is safe.
Check out this video for some insight into a private investigator’s background check process: