How To Effectively Investigate a Nanny’s Background


Trusting people with your kids is no easy feat. For me, the only person I trust implicitly with them is my husband. While I trust our parents and our relatives more than anyone in the world, I’d say pretty implicitly, I still worry that they might not be able to do everything correctly, handle everything with ease or do it my way (so, that definitely sounds a bit like a control freak, so there you go – now you know a little bit about me). As I type this, I am on a plane with my husband on our way to NYC for some fashion week events. Our four beautiful babies are home – in our home – with my mother-in-law.

She loves them more than life itself and would do anything for them, yet I worry. I worry she will forget to set the alarm at night (but that’s all right because we have the ADT app and I can check it and set it myself in Florida from NYC). I worry that she won’t get the big girls to school in time because she has no idea how that goes in the mornings. I worry she will forget something crucial in their lunches or that she won’t latch the gate to the stairs and someone might fall. I worry. But I never have to worry that she will have a cocktail and then load them into the car to head out for some fun. I never have to worry she will let strangers near our kids or into our home. But I still worry.

I work from home, and I have a demanding schedule. Last summer I hired a part-time assistant to come in and help me out with the little things around the house – dishes, laundry and the like. She ended up spending more time with the kids than anything else, and that was tremendously helpful in allowing me to get my work done in the mornings so that I could focus my afternoons on the kids. And even though I’ve known her my entire life – I even babysat her when she was a child – I still did a background check on her. I’ve known her family my entire life, and she is a responsible young woman who was in nursing school at the time, and we adore her. But I take absolutely not one chance with my children.

We talk often about hiring a nanny to come into our home and handle our twins so that I can work and they can have someone to interact with them while their big sisters are at school. We haven’t done it yet, because it terrifies me. They still take a long nap during the day and between those three hours and the time I have waking up at 5 am, I can get most of my work done and actually spend time with them. However, I know those days are numbered and I will have to seriously consider this. In my research to find out if I’m making the right decision, I’ve learned a lot about how to thoroughly investigate a potential nanny for my kids, and I feel that I’m learning more every day. I hope that I can share some of my own newfound knowledge with you, so that you can ensure your kids are in safe hands with their nanny.

Get authorization

To be clear, you cannot perform a background check on anyone without first obtaining an authorization. As it happens, you do need some very personal information about these people, and you also need their signature. Be sure to obtain this first, and then you can get started. It’s the first, most important and most effective way to ensure you are handling your investigation correctly.

Find the right resource

Most reputable nanny agencies will provide you with a background check when choosing a nanny, but it never hurts to perform your own. You’re going to want to work with particular sites, such as Instant Checkmate to ensure that you are getting the real deal and not something that isn’t accurate or complete. You might even make the decision to hire a private investigation firm to do this for you. It’s easy, it’s not too expensive and it is always worth it to have this done.

Check all the right information

You might just think that you need only look for things like a criminal record or whether or not a nanny candidate is a sex offender, but you are incorrect. These are exceptionally important factors to look into, but there are other factors that also warrant your full attention. For example, you must find out if your nanny has a good driving record. Do you really want to hire someone to watch your kids, drive them to and from the park, if she has a history of DUIs or accidents that are her own fault? You definitely do not. You also need to ensure that your nanny is a legal US citizen and that she’s actually who she says she is and this is not some sort of weird case of stolen identity.

Call those references

Here is one of the easiest parts of this process, yet it is one that so many people ignore. If a nanny has references, call them. Call them all. It’s so important that you do this because past employers can tell you so much more than a piece of paper on a background check. They can tell you things like how she’s so good with newborn babies and can soothe them like a miracle worker, or that she was amazing with their toddlers but did not seem to have much patience with their newborn. Or perhaps they’ll tell you that she’s messy or that she’s a gossip or that she is the kind of person that sits down with the kids and does arts and crafts and makes Pinterest look like a slacker. These are things you want to know – and you are not going to find them on her background check.

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