Who's Watching the Kids”The ABC's of Background Checks
This is a touchy subject for many because of privacy and trust issues. It's also an uncomfortable subject because while most would agree that you should know everything about the person caring for your children, many feel uneasy about actually doing something about it.
Why be so vigilant? For the simple reason that this person will be caring for and spending considerable time alone with your most precious possessions”your children. The idea of doing a background check on someone may make you uncomfortable and that's quite normal. It is better to find out ahead of time about someone's past then to learn later on that he or she has a criminal record, has been caught driving while intoxicated, has financial problems, or tragically, is a sexual offender. You need only to watch the news to realize that children are harmed by adults they trust every day.
What if all the references you were given by the nanny or sitter check out? You should still do a background check even if his or her references are
. Sometimes people give an individual a
reference just because they would like to get rid of them. Consider that you are calling upon a stranger to tell you about another stranger that may live in your home. It's better to be vigilant and err on the side of safety than to find out that someone is not what you believed he or she to be.
What if you are hiring someone through an agency and they say that the nanny or housekeeper checked out? From time to time, an agency is not as honest as it should be. In addition, even the best, most ethical agency can make a mistake. You would be wise to verify that a background check was completed with the company that
There are two ways to investigate a person's background”either you can hire a private agency or you can attempt it on your own. A private agency will do an investigation for a fee. The
-around time is often quick”
from one to seven days. You can find a listing of investigation agencies in your local telephone directory or through the Internet. The average cost of a background check by a private agency should be around $75 to $300, depending on the depth of the investigation. A listing of several agencies found on the Web can be located in Appendix D.The following is a listing of the key areas to investigate when conducting a background search:
Motor Vehicle Records
” Lists all infractions in the past three to five
; confirms the status and classification of a driver's license.
” A criminal search can be done on a county, state, or federal level. The report identifies any misdemeanor or felony records, including
parole and release records, as well as sexual
Social Security Number Verification
” A verification will confirm or deny if an SSN is valid. A trace on an SSN discloses the
and age of the cardholder, current and past addresses, whether the person is
or deceased, and where the card was issued.
” A credit report will reveal if he or she has ever declared bankruptcy, is in debt, or has any liens or
Worker's Compensation Reports
” Reveals any past compensation claims.
Previous Employer Verification
” Indicates where the person has worked,
held, salaries, reasons for leaving, and overall job performance.
” This report confirms where and when an individual attended school and what degrees were awarded.
In the end, you will sleep better at night knowing that you have thoroughly conducted a background search on the person caring for your children. While others may roll their eyes and say that you're going too far, remember that it is very difficult to undo a problem once it has