DNAinfo.com, a news outlet in New York, did a survey of parents on the Upper East Side and discovered that the majority of those who hired nannies never did any kind of background check before turning their children over to complete strangers. Of the parents surveyed, 64.3% did not do a background check. Many said it is because the nanny had worked with a friend or family member.
While references are an important part of finding the right fit, there are companies out there that specialize in checking into nannies. A complete screen should include many of the same searches that companies use when doing pre-employment screening.
The list of recommended searches includes:
- Social Security Trace
- Address History
- Sex Offender Database
- Federal/Statewide and County Criminal Record Searches
- Motor Vehicle Report
- Education Verification
- Reference Verification
Some agencies expand the searches to also include previous employment verification, a search to see there are any liens, bankruptcies or judgments against your candidate, and even the Global Terrorist Watchlist.
In order to do a proper background check you will need to be sure to get the correct spelling of your applicant’s name, their Social Security Number and find out if they have any aliases. (An alias doesn’t necessarily mean anything nefarious -- a marriage or divorce can be enough to make records confusing.)
I know this sounds overwhelming, but you are talking about turning over the safety of your precious child to a stranger. The International Nanny Association is a good place to help you start getting organized. This site will help you find reputable companies that do nanny background checks, but be prepared to interview the background screening company as well. They are not all created equal. One of the most important things to ask is how they confirm a record. Do they rely on the FBI Fingerprint Database and other online databases, or do they send researchers to go through courthouse records to confirm accuracy?
And finally, keep in minds that a good background check shouldn’t come with a rock bottom price. Don’t expect to spend $19.95 and get all of the important info. If you are in the market for a nanny, expect to expend some time, effort and money, but know they will all be well spent.