A Guide to Nanny Background Checks
An Important Decision
As adults, we make some pretty weighty decisions. What’s the best car for our family? Do we take the promotion and move away or do with less money and live in the same town as our family? Does my butt look bigger or smaller in low rise jeans? (OK, that one’s not such a big deal.) As much time as we put in wringing our hands over more trivial choices like the style of a wedding dress or a new haircut, you’d think that a decision as important as who will care for our children would require hours of preparation and research.
Oddly, most people hire a nanny based on the recommendation of an agency or a brief interview. Whether they’re too shy to delve into someone’s past or aren’t sure how to perform a thorough background check, a large number of parents simply allow a stranger to enter their home each day and tend to their children without knowing much more about them than the names of their last two employers.
It’s not a smart way to go, and a laid back attitude toward hiring a nanny can have disastrous consequences. A woman posing as a potential nanny was arrested in upscale Walnut Creek, California, for stealing thousands of dollars from her employers. If the parents had run a simple criminal check, they would have discovered that she was a convicted felon with a criminal record that “reads like a con artist’s handbook,” according to the local newspaper.
Six months earlier and ten minutes away in another affluent suburb, Danville, California, a nanny drove onto a curb and killed two children as they walked with their mother. If the nanny’s employers had performed a basic DMV check before hiring her, they would have known that the woman caring for their children had had her driver’s license suspended at least nine times for drunk driving and other violations.
Those are just the stories that make national headlines. Every day across America, parents find out that their nanny isn’t quite the Mary Poppins she appeared to be in the interview. Of course, there are thousands of qualified, dependable, absolutely terrific nannies bringing up legions of munchkins throughout the country. So how can you be sure you’re hiring a good one? By being as nosy as humanly possible.
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