Authored by Geoff Vaughan in Parenting
Published on 01-12-2009
In this day and age, it pays to be paranoid. Gone are the days when you can leave your car and house doors unlocked, eat unsealed Halloween candy, and leave your luggage unattended in the airport. The same goes for choosing a nanny, as well. You simply cannot hire a nanny for your children without doing some form of investigation into the person’s background.
To conduct a background check on your choice for a nanny, you will need to ask for some specific pieces of information from the candidate. First, she should provide all of her personal information including full name, birth date, social security number, and current address. She may balk at giving out this much information, especially the social security number, but if she really wants the job she most likely will comply.
In addition, your candidate should provide at least three professional references who can vouch for her past experience as a nanny, or any other type of work experience if she is new to the profession. Personal references are easy to come by, as the potential nanny can just put down her friends and relatives who will always say positive things no matter what. But professional references are much tougher to manufacture if she is not a good worker. Make sure to call each reference listed; don’t just assume they will be completely laudatory. You might be surprised at how honest professional references can be, particularly if there’s negative information to impart. Another good idea is to have a list of questions ready for each reference so you are can make maximum use of your time as well as that of the former colleague.
In addition to checking professional references, the other part of the background involves researching public records. Armed with the candidate’s personal information, there is a lot one can find out. If you want to spend a little money, there are a whole host of services that will tell you where she has lived in the past, whether she has a criminal record, any aliases used, and even her driving record. This can be important if she will be driving your children to activities or picking them up from school. Prices can range from the tens to hundreds of dollars depending on the service and how in-depth the investigation.
Alternatively, there are many court systems across the United States that make their records searchable online for free. With a little digging it can be possible to find out if she has a criminal record at least in your county or state. If she gives you a list of her past addresses, you can also check the court records of those areas as well. It may take a few web searches to find the sites for these courts, but once at a court website it’s usually fairly obvious if a records search is available and how to do it.
Whether you use a service or attempt to do the digging yourself, it is essential to investigate the background of any nanny you plan to hire. Spending some money up front to conduct a background check is a wise investment in your family as well as your peace of mind.