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Babysitter Background Checks

Being Thorough in Your Babysitter Background Search

To ensure that the person you hire to babysit your children will be worthy of your trust, it is a good idea to perform a variety of background checks.  A brief list of background checks recommended when hiring a babysitter is provided below.

Character and professional references -- Such references will indicate the level of professionalism, experience, kindness, warmth, and dependability of your potential babysitter.  Reference information can also indicate the babysitter candidate's honesty.  For example, are the dates of employment provided by the candidate the same as the dates of employment provided by the references?

Criminal background checks -- These checks will tell you if your babysitter candidate has a record of any criminal offenses that would make him/her not a suitable candidate to babysit your children.

Driver's records checks -- These checks will tell you if your babysitter candidate can be entrusted to safely transport your children.  (Note: if your babysitter will not be driving with your children in the automobile, you may not want this background information. However, even if your babysitter won't be transporting your children, these records can indicate the level of risk that the babysitter is comfortable with on a day-to-day basis.  For example, if s/he has long history of speeding, negligent driving, etc., you can assume that this candidate is comfortable "living on the edge".  You would then need to decide if you are comfortable exposing your children to that risk.)

Drug testing -- Pre-employment drug testing reduces the likelihood that your babysitter candidate may abuse substances (i.e., illegal drugs).

Higher education and licensure verifications -- If your babysitter candidate tells you that he/she holds a Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood Education, or if he/she claims to be licensed as an LPN, it is wise to confirm this information because the accuracy or falseness of those claims speak directly to the candidate's fitness for the job.

Sex offender registry/child abuse registry/vulnerable adult abuse registry record checks -- If your babysitter has a record of sexual abuse or assault, child abuse, or vulnerable adult abuse, this is likely not a candidate worthy of your futher consideration.

Credit history record checks -- If your babysitter will be left without adult supervision in your home, and thus have unsupervised access to your financial and other assets, you may want to request a copy of his/her credit history to determine how responsible the candidate has been in handling his/her finances. A person in financial distress is more likely to engage in theft than a person who is not in financial distress.

Social Security record checks -- By checking these records, you will be able to confirm that your babysitter candidate's name and Social Security number are (or are not) valid according to the records of the federal Social Security Administration.  

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Illegal Questions You Canít Ask a Caregiver

When conducting a babysitting interview, it's important to keep in mind that there are some questions that you just can't ask.  Following is a list of illegal questions.

How old are you?  When were you born?  (Note:  you can ask if the candidate meets the legal minimum age threshold specified by federal law for the requirements of the job you are seeking to fill.)

Where were you born?  (Note:  you can ask if the candidate is legally authorized to work in the USA.)

What is your race or ethnicity?

What is your religion?  (Note: if you expect your babysitter to instill religious beliefs and practices in your children, you may ask if he/she is willing to do so pursuant to your beliefs and practices, but you may not ask if those beliefs and practices conflict with his/hers.)

Are you married?  What is your maiden name?

Do you intend to become pregnant any time soon?

Are you, in any way, disabled?

(If the candidate has served in the military) Were you discharged honorably, dishonorably, or medically?

Have you ever been arrested?  (You can only ask about convictions and charges to which he/she has plead guilty or no contest.)

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Questions You Should Ask During a Reference Check

During a babysitter reference check, plan ahead with a short list of questions you want to ask previous employers so you can get a good idea of whether an applicant would make a good childcare provider for your family. Following is a list of suggested reference check questions.

What were his/her dates of employment with your family?

How did he/she relate to your children? 

How did he/she relate to you (and your spouse)?

Did he/she perform tasks given him/her in the manner and time that you specified?

Was he/she reliable?

How did he/she balance the peer-like elements of the relationship (playing with the children, etc.) with the adult-child elements of the relationship (i.e., holding your children accountable for behaviors you don't want to encourage)?

How well did he/she handle stressful situations?

How well did he/she multitask?

Did he/she possess special skills that were job-relevant?

What were his/her strengths and weaknesses that you observed when he/she worked for you?

Why did his/her employment with you come to an end?  (If he/she quit, ask how much notice he/she gave.)

Would re-hire him/her?  Why or why not?

Are there any concerns you would have about him/her being hired as a caregiver for _____#____ children?  If so, what are your concerns?



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Why Itís Important to Do Background Checks

Although it can be tempting to hire the first babysitter you come across who interviews well, it is wise to do thorough background checks. In many cases, you won’t find anything to deter you from hiring the babysitter candidate,but it’s better to err on the side of caution.

The babysitter background checks can reveal information you wouldn’t otherwise be privy to. Take this case of a California nanny who drove her car into two children in a hit-and-run accident in 2003. Both children, ages 7 and 10, were killed. (These children were not under the nanny’s care.) A family hired her from an advertisement and neglected to do a background check. Had they done a background check of the nanny’s driving record, they would have found that the woman had her driver’s license suspended twice for a high blood-alcohol level. Such a marked driving record would be an instant red flag against hiring that nanny.

Background checks can reveal other information you may need to know before hiring.  For example, would you hire a babysitter who has been convicted of theft?  Would you hire a babysitter who has a long history of bad debts?  (Do you feel that bad debts are job-relevant if the babysitter has access to all of your property in your absence?)  Would you hire a babysitter who has a record of child or vulnerable adult abuse?  Would you hire a babysitter with a driving record of reckless driving and speeding over 20 miles per hour over the speed limit? 

If a babysitter candidate has any of these things in his/her background, he/shemay not volunteer information about these things.  The best way to know if you have the best candidate is to perform thorough background checks.


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