Hiring Caregivers

How to Do a Background Check?

A background check on a nanny includes an array of components. During your initial interview, ask to see your applicant’s photo identification; and record her name, address, birth date, social security number, phone number and driver’s license number. Confirm the information through an online people search website such as U.S. Search for People Data. Also, have her complete an I-9 form, and then use the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services E-Verify to see if she is legally eligible to work in our country.

Speak to formal and informal references, including former employers and people who have observed her work (please see the list of questions to ask below). If you desire your nanny to have a certain educational attainment, request a copy of her transcripts and contact the school she attended. Verify a claim of licensure with the appropriate licensing body. A social media search is also advisable, as it can turn up red flags.

Request that your applicant sign a form that will give you permission to see her personal information. Check the sex offender registry and child abuse records, in addition to civil, criminal and motor vehicle records. You may also want to see her credit report because financial troubles may indicate she has significant stress in her life.

What Questions to Ask References?

Some background-check services will interview references, but regardless of whether you use them, speak with former employers yourself because they are a valuable source of information. Compose your list of questions beforehand, making sure to cover everything from work habits to personality problems. Below are some inquiries to include:

  • How long did she work for you?
  • Why did she leave?
  • Did your children like her, or did they seem afraid of her?
  • What did you like best about her?
  • What are her weaknesses?
  • Did she have adequate energy levels?
  • Is she dependable?
  • How did she respond to stress?
  • Did she have any duties other than caregiving?
  • How did she handle situations when the two of you had a difference of opinion?
  • Did she need supervision, or could she work independently?
  • How did she communicate with children? (Find out if she was patient and warm, or if she was sometimes irritable.)
  • How did she communicate with you and other adults?
  • Did an emergency ever arise when she worked for you? If so, how did she cope with it?
  • Would you hire her again?
  • How would you rate her overall performance? (If she isn’t rated highly, ask why.)
  • If there anything else about her I should know?

What Is a Criminal Records Check?

A criminal record is a compilation of local, state and federal information regarding a person’s law violations. This list contains past arrests and warrants, as well as current, dismissed and acquitted charges. The record also includes prison time served, probation and parole, in addition to a global homeland security search and an international criminal check.

What Is a Motor Vehicle Records Check?

If your nanny will be taking your child to school or various locations, you’ll want to learn all about her driving history. A motor vehicle records check has information on license suspensions and revocations, along with accidents, traffic violations and unanswered summons. This search is essential because criminal records don’t always include convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A careful review of the record will give you an indication of whether or not your applicant is a conscientious driver.

Options for Conducting a Background Search

You can choose to conduct the background check yourself using either a free or a fee-based service, or you can hire an agency to do it. Free resources include PeekYou, which provides social media profiles; Snoop Station, which gives links to databases of court records and general information; and the National Center for State Courts, which contains local criminal history.

Although the free background-check services can be helpful, most experts would advocate the use of a fee-based service before you make a household hire. According to Business News Daily, eNannySource is the best company to investigate caregiver applicants. Since it specializes in household employees, the company is aware of the signs that would indicate a job candidate would be an undesirable hire. The company offers a choice of background check plans, and the results are usually available within three days. Most importantly, it also has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

An investigation of your nanny candidate can help you make an informed hiring decision. While it won’t provide an iron-clad guarantee that the person you choose to care for your child won’t be guilty of wrongdoing in the future, it can maximize the likelihood that she is worthy of your trust. Because of the safety issues at stake, it merits the time and expense involved.