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Background checks for nannies: When it comes to your kids, do your homework

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Running a background check on a potential nanny, babysitter or caregiver hire is a must to ensure you’re leaving your children with a safe and reliable person. There is a lot of public information that you can use, plus in some states, you can ask applicants to sign a consent that gives you permission to check driving records, arrest records, and more. We cover all of that in this post, which includes 11 steps to DIY your own nanny background check.

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 for caregivers

#1. Google search potential babysitters

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. 

Research for potential nannies on social media sites such as:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Linkedin

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 photo 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

Make sure the applicant's ID has not expired. Don't accept copies. The applicant should allow you to make a copy of their ID, which you can use to conduct a professional background check.

The free site eForms offers background check authorization form templates that you can download and use, depending on your local and state laws. It may be easier to use a professional service (see #11 for more details).

#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: 

  • Name
  • Birthday
  • 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.

Start your background check on TruthFinder.

Or, read our TruthFinder review.

Best background check websites for nannies, babysitters and caregivers

Choose from these nanny background check websites that comply with the FCRA:

Care.com

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. 

Check out our Care.com review and get 20% off a premium membership with coupon code JOINCARE20 now >>

eNannySource

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). 

Recent reviews for eNannySource are scarce. There are no reviews on its BBB profile, it’s not listed on Trustpilot, and Sitejabber shows one 4-star review from 2016. 

There are mixed reviews on Yelp, where the latest review from 2021 gives the business 5 stars for excellent resources and customer service. Two older reviews cite 1-star experiences and complain about fees and a lack of caregiver options.

Other ways to find people online and check someone's 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.

Instant Checkmate reviews 2024: Is it worth paying for?

Start your TruthFinder search for just $1.

Check out this video for some insight into a private investigator’s background check process:

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