How to Run a Nanny Background Check

How to Run a Nanny Background Check

There are several ways parents can find nannies: an agency, word of mouth, or services like Craigslist. Many experts warn parents not to go the Craigslist route, but rather use an agency or get a recommendation from someone you trust.

Agencies typically vet and screen their nannies, but if you're finding a nanny through word of mouth or via a job board or Craigslist, it's important to run a background check.

Why Use Nanny Background Checks?

Unfortunately, theft and abuse crimes happen in the childcare world. The last thing you want to do as a parent is endanger the life of your child.

Some sources claim that when families find a nanny they really like, they feel a background check is unnecessary or they feel bad asking prospective nannies to undergo a background check. Since background checks are standard in the nanny industry — agencies typically run background checks on all their candidates — there's no reason to feel bad about asking for one.

What Information Should You Search For?

There isn't a standard type of nanny background check. Each online service or agency will include different information in their checks. But, generally speaking, most nanny background checks will include the following information.

Identity Confirmation

In order to conduct a thorough nanny background check, you need to first confirm a nanny's identity. Ask for your nanny's full name, social security number, and driver's license. If your nanny is not a US citizen, ask for her passport number and work permit.

Next, you and your nanny can fill out the I-9 form to determine work eligibility. You can then use the US Citizenship and Immigration Services E-Verify, which will confirm the information your nanny gave on the I-9 form and determine whether the nanny is eligible to legally work in the US. Before you begin the I-9 and E-Verify process, make sure to gather all the items you need to register, which includes getting an employer identification number.

Criminal Records

If you use a background check agency to complete your nanny background check, make sure they check criminal records for the past seven years. If you're completing the background check yourself, ask your nanny for a seven year address history (most checks won’t return information from longer than seven years ago). This will help you determine if you should run a criminal background check at a country, state, or national level.

Gathering a complete criminal records history, whether at a county level or state level, will give you a comprehensive view of your nanny's past. It will include arrests, convictions of felonies and misdemeanors, court records, warrants, sex offenses, and incarceration records (if applicable).

If your nanny has lived abroad, be sure to check any criminal records from those countries. Unfortunately, conducting an international background check isn't simple, as you have to abide by each country's laws and regulations. But the results you find might be well worth it.

Driving Records

Many nannies drive their charges to appointments and extracurricular activities. If your child is going to spend any time in the car with your nanny, it's worth checking out your nanny's driving record.

For each state your nanny has held a driver's license, ask the DMV offices for driving records (many states allow you to do this online). Each state has different regulations about what is included in driving records, but records usually include convictions, violations, collisions, suspensions, and failures to appear in court.

If your nanny has held an international driver's license or a license in another country, try contacting that country's DMV, or equivalent, to see if you can obtain driving records. You can also contact that country's US embassy to find the best way to get your nanny's driving records.

Reference Check

One of the best ways to get a feel of your nanny's capabilities is to call past references. Make sure to write down all the questions you want to ask before you give any references a call, so you're sure to get all the information you need.

Nannies, like any other employee, will likely give references who think very highly of them. You can also ask your nanny for a full employment history and call past employers who were not on the reference list. This will give you a more complete picture of your nanny's work habits.

Sex Offender Registry

Since you're trusting your nanny to take care of your children, you want to be sure your nanny has no history of sexual abuse or crimes. All US states are required to maintain a sex offender registry, which is public information. CriminalWatchDog also maintains a free national registry you can check. Many other countries keep public databases of sex offenders. If your nanny lived in another country, see if that country has a database you can check.

Child Abuse and Neglect Records

All states keep records of child abuse and neglect, which are maintained by the state's child protective services. Each state has different laws about what can be disclosed and to who. About 30 states allow employers to check their registries if their employee is applying for a childcare position. Make sure to check each state's laws about whether or not you can screen your nanny for past child abuse.

So, How Do You Run a Nanny Background Check?

A nanny background check is one of the most extensive types of checks you can run, but for good reason. Closely examine criminal records, the sex offender registry, and child abuse records. It's also a good idea to talk to the prospective nanny's past employers and review their driving record. All of this will help parents feel completely comfortable and confident about their child's caregiver.

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