If you’re hiring a nanny, you’re probably dealing with a lot of moving parts: multiple applications, callbacks, interviews, follow-up interviews, agency recommendations, and so on. It can take a lot of time, research, and luck to find the right childcare provider for you, so it can be tempting to cut corners. Some parents do this at the background check stage, figuring that a few standard phone calls or emails to the nanny’s references will do the trick. But that’s a mistake. You should never hire a nanny without running a background check. Here’s why:
To be frank, there’s no real way to know what a potential nanny might be bringing into your home. This isn’t just a typical employee, after all. This is someone who’s going to be spending hours on end with your child, and they’ll be there for months or even years. A thorough background check is a crucial part of the decision-making process and a reliable way to know if the nanny you’re thinking of hiring has ever had documented run-ins with the law. Employee background checks, which gather information from consumer reporting agencies and are overseen by the Fair Credit Reporting Act, query a variety of criminal databases to see if your possible hire has any black marks. Those databases include the FBI Identification Record and the Interstate Identification Index System, and they include, sex offender registries, criminal records, and more. Depending on the type of check you run a background check may include checking county court records or other types of records such as a candidate’s motor vehicle driving record.
You shouldn’t hire someone to bring into your home — especially if you’re looking for a live-in nanny — without conducting a background check. It’s just too dangerous to overlook.
On a related note, you open yourself up to potential liability if you don’t get a background check. In addition to sex offender registries, background checks also round up a variety of criminal behavior, usually if the applicant was convicted in the previous seven years. If your nanny has, say, been involved with theft, you could be leaving yourself open to serious risks if you skip the check.
It’s Simple to Request One
A background check can’t just be performed on the sly. You must request the consent of your nanny applicant to investigate their background. But this is such a simple thing, and it can save you so much hassle and worry, that it’s foolish not to request one.
Think of the background check as an important checkpoint in the application process, and as a kind of gatekeeper for your home. You can request one at any point, but to save costs, it might be best to only conduct background checks on applicants that you’re considering at least somewhat seriously. The background checking company you are working with should provide you with a consent form for the candidate to complete as well as a summary of the candidate’s rights for you to provide to her. Once you have the green light from your applicant, you can get the background check rolling. That’s all you have to do. If something that important is also that easy why not do it?
You’re Part of a Childcare Community
Nannies talk to each other, and so do employers. Hiring a childcare professional means being involved in a larger community of parents, families, and nannies who rely on each other for work and references. Performing a background check on your nanny doesn’t just help you; it helps inform the broader members of the community of the importance of them.
When parents in a community commit to properly screening their nannies they set the standards for nannies in the community. When nannies come to expect backgrounds screenings as a pre-employment measure, those with a checkered past may be less likely to apply for nanny positions.
Ultimately, you are responsible for the safety and happiness of your own family. Living up to that responsibility means doing everything you can to bring the right help into your home, and a background check — simple, effective, and fast — is a vital part of the process. While a background check isn’t the only tool you should use to screen your nanny it is a tool that will provide you with information that you may not have otherwise been able to gather.