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How to Conduct a Background Check for Your Nanny: Ensuring Your Kids' Safety

Dustin Villepigue — Writer for Top.10
How to Conduct a Background Check for Your Nanny: Ensuring Your Kids' Safety
Does the idea of leaving your child in the care of a stranger give you anxiety? Get additional peace of mind by running a background check before you hire a nanny.

Choosing a full-time caregiver is a big decision. Nannies may spend tons of time with your kids, shaping their days and influencing their growth. That's why you need someone you can trust.

As a recruitment specialist with extensive experience in background checks, I've helped many families navigate this process. The key is thorough vetting that goes beyond basic qualifications. You'll also want to verify skills like first aid and CPR and get real insights from previous employers.

To make your search easier, I've created a five-step guide. It will help you assess candidates carefully and choose a nanny who's truly right for your family. Let's dive in.

» Find out why you should run a background check before hiring a nanny.

1. Contact Previous Employers for References

A resume can be deceiving. In fact, 64.2% of employees have lied about skills, experience, or references at least once. Spend some time contacting references and asking about a candidate's work history.

When talking to previous employers, focus on the potential nanny's on-the-job performance, skills, and temperament. Don't shy away from asking about conflicts or negative experiences. To make these conversations easier, try these questions:

About the Job

  • What was the caregiver's role?
  • How long did they work for you?


  • How would you describe the caregiver?
  • What did you like most about them?
  • Was there anything you disliked?
  • Did your children enjoy their time with the caregiver?


  • Were they always on time for work?
  • How did they handle emergencies?
  • Did they perform their duties to your liking?
  • Did they ever drive your children around?
  • Do they need a lot of guidance and supervision?
  • What areas could they improve?
  • Why did they leave?
  • Would you hire them again?
A criminal history check can help you weed out nannies unsuitable for caring for your kids. 

2. Check Criminal History and Other Violations

A criminal history check can help you weed out nannies unsuitable for caring for your kids. These checks can help you identify a history of child abuse, violence, or anger issues. It's also the perfect time to look out for DUIs or drug abuse violations.

Just remember to do everything by the book. Ensure you know how to conduct a criminal background check and follow state and federal guidelines.

3. Verify Your Nanny's Qualifications

When hiring a nanny, focus on these essential education verification tips:

  • Education: Start with a high school diploma as the baseline. An Associate's or Bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education is even better, indicating a solid grasp of child development.
  • Certifications: Look for relevant childcare credentials. Advanced certifications like Certified Nanny and Childcare Provider (NCP) or Certified Newborn and Infant Care Professional (NICP) are particularly valuable.
  • Safety skills: Prioritize candidates with current Pediatric First Aid and CPR certifications. Swimming ability is crucial if you have a pool. Don't overlook the importance of a valid driver's license for handling emergencies.

Review these qualifications on resumes and discuss them during interviews. Always verify credentials using trusted background check services like CheckPeople or TruthFinder. This approach ensures you select a nanny with the right skills and background to provide safe, quality care for your children.

Remember, supporting your nanny's continued professional growth benefits your entire family. Encourage their participation in workshops and pursuit of new certifications to ensure they stay current with childcare best practices.

» Don't miss a thing. Learn about the best practices for background checks.

Reviewing a candidate's online presence will give you insights into their personality, interests, and communication style. 

4. Evaluate Their Personal Background

Video Interviews

Consider conducting initial video interviews before in-person meetings. This approach allows you to screen candidates and observe their communication skills. Pay attention to their demeanor, clarity of speech, and how they present themselves in a virtual setting.

In-person Interview

Resumes and background checks only tell part of the story. The real purpose of your interview is to gauge the candidate's maturity, reliability, and ability to handle responsibilities. Use this time to dig deeper into their character and approach to childcare.

Discuss Childcare Approach

Start by asking about their approach to childcare and related challenges. Inquire about their parenting philosophy, how they manage difficult children, and the safety measures they take when out with kids. These questions will give you a clearer picture of how they'll care for your children.

Explore Personal Interests

Next, delve into their personal hobbies, activities, and interests that might affect the job. Ask if there are sports or activities they'd like to share with the children. It's also wise to inquire about any extra-curricular activities or responsibilities that could impact their availability.

Social Media Screening

Social media background checks reveal a lot about potential employees. Reviewing a candidate's online presence will give you insights into their personality, interests, and communication style. You might see how they interact with children or handle childcare situations.

Before checking social media, always get the candidate's written permission. Focus on public, professional information rather than personal details. Use a service like BeenVerified if you want help conducting these checks properly.

5. Comply with Legal Requirements

Follow Proper Procedures

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) governs background checks. You must get permission before accessing consumer reports with criminal history information. Be aware of this law to protect yourself and the candidate.

Follow adverse action procedures if you decide not to hire someone. Give them a written explanation for your decision. This step protects you from legal issues and prevents discrimination based on race, gender, or sexual orientation.

Know Your State and Local Laws

Check your area's background check rules before hiring a nanny. Laws vary widely by location. For example, in California, you can't consider arrests that didn't lead to convictions or convictions older than seven years.

When reviewing a candidate's record, you should:

  • Balance past offenses with their efforts to improve
  • Consider only what's legally allowed in your area
  • Be aware of fair chance laws like "ban the box," which may delay when you can ask about criminal history
  • Stick to relevant, public information and avoid using private records

These steps help you make fair decisions and stay within the law. If you're unsure, consult a local employment lawyer for guidance, or consider platforms like Intelius and Instant Checkmate.

» Discover these tips for choosing the best background check site.

Implement a Trial Period

Before making a final hiring decision, consider implementing a paid trial period or "working interview." This approach lets you observe the nanny's interactions with your kids in a real-world setting. During this time, assess how well they handle your family's routines and any unexpected situations.

Use this period to ensure there's mutual compatibility between the nanny, your children, and your family as a whole. A trial period can reveal aspects of a nanny's working style and personality that might not be apparent in traditional interviews or background checks.

Plan for Ongoing Monitoring

Hiring a nanny is not a one-time event but an ongoing process. Plan to conduct periodic background checks (with the nanny's consent) to stay informed of any changes in their record. Schedule regular performance reviews to discuss any concerns, provide feedback, and set goals.

Stay alert to any changes in behavior or circumstances that might affect their work. If you choose to use nanny cams, ensure you're aware of and compliant with local laws regarding surveillance. Ongoing monitoring helps maintain a safe environment for your children and a professional relationship with your nanny.

Conduct Nanny Background Checks Responsibly

When screening potential nannies, handle all information with care and discretion. Keep the intel confidential, and don't share it without the candidate's consent. During interviews, be professional and transparent. This responsible approach helps protect everyone's privacy, avoid legal issues, and maintain trust.

Use a service like PeopleLooker as a tool to make informed decisions, not as a way to gather unnecessary personal information. By following these guidelines, you can conduct thorough screenings while respecting candidates' rights and maintaining ethical hiring practices.

» Find out how you can do background checks for free.

Dustin Villepigue — Writer for Top.10
Dustin contributes to Top10.com as a seasoned technical recruiter. By drawing from his experiences with tech giants like Lyft and Google, he offers insights into effective background checks and the importance of secure hiring practices.

Note: Some or all background search services featured on this site are not subject to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 USC 1681 et seq., ("FCRA") In order to make decisions about consumer credit, employment, insurance, tenant screening, or any other purpose that would require FCRA compliance, make sure you choose the appropriate service for you. Be advised that only consumer reporting agencies may provide consumer reports. This is applicable, but not limited to, a background search, credit background check, criminal background check, and/or driving record.