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Tips On How To Conduct Background Checks for Nanny Services

By Steve Lampert

Hiring a nanny is a sophisticated process that involves searching, interviewing, checking references and extending an offer to the right candidate. When the nanny has accepted your offer, the final step is conducting a criminal background check. Your offer should be contingent on the outcome of those results.

What to check?

It's hard to imagine that in this era of the Internet and computerization there is no reliable national criminal database that is accessible by the public. The "gold standard for checking a nanny's background is to first run a search using her Social Security Number to see where she has lived in the past seven years. This is done so that a decision can be made on which counties should be searched. Yes, that's right, these searches are done county by county, not nationally. Few states have a reliable criminal index that is suitable for nanny background checking because nannies tend to commit misdemeanors at most. Many of these indexes only turn up people who have felony convictions and/or have served time. Many states don't have statewide indexes at all.

Which counties should you search?

Obviously the safest method is to check each county, but in some cases this can get quite costly. A fairly typical scenario may be a nanny who left home to go to college, after which she may have changed schools and then moved again after graduation. So let's say she's 23 now and there are four years that can be searched since she turned 18.

2001 lived at home, 18 years old

2001-2003 moved for college

2003-2005 lived at her second college

2005- moved after graduation to another city

In this case, since she turned 18 at home and moved shortly thereafter, the duration of time spent at her home residence and the city she moved to after graduation is brief. For someone who wanted to hold their costs down, the two most likely locations to check would be the two cities she lived in from 2001-2005. Again, if you want to be absolutely certain and costs are not an issue, you would need to check each place that appears on the Social Security address check.

What other types of checks can be performed?

Driving records are very important if there is driving involved in your job. A credit report can be ordered if you feel that information may be important to your decision. There is a sexual offenders list for each state that should be checked as well. There are numerous other reports that may be ordered if you feel the need.

How do I perform the check?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (which applies to more than just credit checks) requires that you have a written release from your nanny to perform the check. This form is downloaded and filled out by the family and then completed and signed by the nanny.

What are some of the limitations of the checks?

Every company that does these checks warns that these reports cannot guarantee complete accuracy. Also, there is a charge for each type of check that you order, so figuring out your budget ahead of time can help you prioritize which type of checks to run.

All in all, running a background check on a potential nanny for your children is essential. These steps should help make that process more informative and resourceful.

About The Author

Steve Lampert is the President of www.enannysource.com, a web-based nanny search service. Prior to starting the company in 2001, he was president of a well-known nanny agency in Los Angeles. He lives with his wife of 13 years and 8 year-old son in the San Fernando Valley in California. His son's nanny has been with the family since he was born.


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