//The Background Check Files – Nannies
It seems like the obvious thing to do… to background check a nanny, but whether because of being too embarrassed to ask, afraid of how much it might cost, or whatever motive… there is NO reason to skip this step.
In the event that you decide to steer clear of the agencies and do the leg work on your own, a background check IS a must.
Your nanny will be a long term commitment of several years, but before diving into the deep end with that kind of commitment, here are seven concerns a proper background check could draw into light:
1. Driving Record
This is not as obvious of a concern as finding out the person is a sexual predator, but it is one of the most frequent activities that your nanny will be doing with your children and it is often overlooked. Whether the driving is done from school to home, home to the grocery store, or to the park… the nanny’s driving record is paramount.
Check to make sure that there are no outstanding (or past) moving violations/stops such as driving under the influence [DUI], driving while intoxicated [DWI], and multiple cases where he/she was at fault. It is also a good time to double check that the nanny does in fact have an active license, quality vehicle, and good driving habits (it would not be out of the question to ask to go for a cruise with the prospective client to see how safe he/she drives).
2. Sexual/Child Offender
Duh. It should be first, but I thought it was assumed. Your nanny will have 100% unsupervised access to your children. It isn’t beyond a prospective client to think this might get overlooked, since they are applying for this kind of a job (in house childcare of whatever) and it shouldn’t be beyond you to double check the blatantly obvious.
3. Federal/Civil Offenses/Records
Not only will this person have access to your child(ren), but they will have access to everything in your home; that means that unless it is locked in a safe or file cabinet, it is available for him or her to see.
Violent crimes are overstated, but blue collar crimes are just as important.
Think of the boom in identity theft over the last few years… do you want this to be you? You should still lock up anything that could contain personal identification numbers, accounts, or has extreme value.
4. Civil Cases/Judgments/Small Claims
Despite the good nature of the position, it would not be unlike a good con-artist to sue the families of the homes they worked for. Checking any civil cases in this history will shed light on any legal proceedings that appear to be out of order; which, could save you a year down the road from someone who was both taking your money and information to use against you.
Everyone is human and might have a little baggage such as restraining orders (against him/her or for his/her protection)which can be indicative of angry ex-husbands or boyfriends (NOT the type of person you want contacting you or your kids, searching the nanny out, and coming to your door).
Other red flags are domestic abuse cases or a plethora of failed marriages and divorces… these will all be available on a proper employee screen.
A large part of the live-in homecare employment world, depending on where you live, will probably be foreign nationals. This is a good opportunity to be sure the work force you are taking applications from are indeed legal United States residents or have the right to work in the States for an extended period of time (you don’t want to find yourself with a nanny that is deported three months into the job and you get stuck with the legal ramifications.)
Double check the social security number [SNN] and his or her tax identification number [TIN] as you will need these things to pay your nanny and/or claim anything on your OWN tax write offs.
6. Job History/Residential History
These are the hard documented facts that will provide you with a wealth of knowledge beyond where they lived and who they worked for. It will give you an opportunity to see his/her honesty and consistency with their answers.
See what jobs they confess to and which ones they exclude. Those are the jobs that will tell more about a person than a job where little of consequence happened. Of course, it will also enlighten you to other consistencies… moving homes several times a year is a bad sign, just as worse is seeing five different jobs a years on the employment history. Be mindful and use good judgment… give the nanny a chance to explain certain things (which I will cover later).
It might sound over the top, but going a step beyond contacting the nanny’s references is the correct thing to do. Of course, call and interview anyone the nanny uses on a contact list, but if you have the resources to do so, run a background check on those that are listed and double check for the same things for the nanny’s “preferred contacts” as you do for the nanny him/herself.
Give ‘em a chance…
It is not something a consumer report will tell you, but give you nanny a chance to explain any of the flaws on their background report. Without getting into “everyone makes mistakes” talk (and everyone can, there’s just a difference between a speeding ticket when she was 18 and a breaking and entering claim that was dropped due to insufficient evidence), there very likely are good reasons why there are discrepancies on an employee screen.
The action might be justifiable, a blatant error in judgment, or an error on the report all together. Worst case scenario, they are uncomfortable talking about it or have no defense and you just saved yourself the headache of a bad nanny.
Best case scenario, you double check the things on this list and you can go to work confidently knowing your children are in safe hands.
“10 Ways the Word Nanny is Used in Other Ways” at http://www.nannyjobs.org/
Categories: Child Care