Nanny Background Checks: 8 Vital Components

Whether you find your nanny through on online service, word of mouth or traditional nanny placement agency, parents have the ultimate hiring responsibility when it comes to deciding who will be caring for their children. The more information parents can gather about a prospective nanny through comprehensive nanny background checks, the more educated and informed their hiring decision will be.

For parents or hiring agents to run a background check on a nanny candidate, the nanny candidate must provide authorization. Background screenings must also comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act and other applicable state laws.

  • Confirmation of Identity. The starting point of accurate nanny background checks is ensuring that you are screening the actual individual who is applying for your job. Background checks should verify the individuals’ name, date of birth, Social Security number and driver’s license number by cross referencing the information the nanny candidate has supplied on the application and background screening authorization form with information on the nanny candidates identifying documents.
  • Social Security Number Verification. The Social Security Number verification drives the criminal background check. When a Social Security Number is verified, it searches information provided by credit reporting bureaus, who gather information from individuals each time they apply for credit or open utility accounts.  The Social Security Number verification reports names, addresses and phone numbers that have been used in conjunction with the researched Social Security Number.
  • Criminal Records Check. Criminal records checks should be conducted in the jurisdictions for the addresses that were populated through the Social Security Number verification going back at least 7 years.  While many online sites advertise a free background check, they are typically referring to conducting a national registry search, which is an electronic database search. The national search should be used in conjunction, NOT in place of county court records checks because they are often outdated and do not house all records for all states. When parents request a criminal background check, they should ensure that the check includes both misdemeanors and felonies, since the records are often houses in different courts, in different indexes within jurisdictions.
  • Sex Offender Registry. A check of the sex offender registry should be a part of a thorough nanny background screening. The registry houses information on sex offenders and is usually included in most packages.  It can also be accessed by the public by clicking here.
  • Motor Vehicle Record Review. It is important for nannies who are transporting children to do so safely and responsibly. Parents should confirm that the nanny has a clean driving record, free from DUIs, OUIs and tickets for reckless or irresponsible driving.  In most states, employers may be able to request a copy of an individual’s driving record, but in other states, the individual must request the copy and present it to the employer for review.
  • Bankruptcy Filings. A look into a nanny’s financial history could reveal financial troubles, which can be an indication of a motive to potentially steal or defraud a a family.  It may also indicate an inability to remain responsible.  And while credit checks would be another useful tool, due to restrictions from the credit bureaus, these are difficult for families to obtain.
  • Employment / Reference Checks. Parents can ask a background check to confirm prior employment a nanny may claim on his/her resume.  Parents should also consider speaking with references, although these interviews may be taken with a grain of salt since candidates typically only provide positive references.  Also if a reference is a current employee at a company (as opposed to a prior family), call the company’s main switchboard to connect you instead of using a number provided by the applicant.  It’s possible the number provided may simply be that of the applicant’s relative or friend.
  • Educational and License Verification. Parents should confirm that the information a nanny candidate has presented about her educational background, training and license is true and accurate. Background checks can verify copies of transcripts and diplomas and contact schools, colleges and licensing boards.

While nanny background checks can’t guarantee that a candidate is free and clear or wrongful doing or will be in the future, thorough background checks can certainly reveal information about a candidate that can help parents make informed and educated hiring decisions.