Checking the Background of Parents and Nannies

For the past week we have been discussing that parents must screen caregivers themselves when using nanny web sites to hire in-home childcare providers. Nannies should check the backgrounds of the parents before accepting a new job as well.

When you apply for a nanny position, you should expect a background check will be conducted by the nanny placement agencies and parents before you are hired.

As a nanny you are not responsible for the cost of the background investigations. Nanny placement agencies usually charge their clients (parents) to pay for the background checks.

Parents and employment agencies typically perform criminal checks ($50); motor vehicle check ($30); social security scan ($40); education history ($30); and past employment check. Although performing credit checks for nanny candidates is controversial, credit reports can alert employers to fraudulent addresses, numbers, employment history, and assumed names.

Nanny placement agencies and parents will need your permission before checking your credit and it may cost about $25 to check credit. A few agencies and parents may also require a drug test.

Parents should also consider contacting the your references directly rather than just letting placement agencies talk to your references.

You can also check the backgrounds of parents. At the very least you should do a google search of the parents’ names.

You may also be interested in any civil litigation involving potential employers ($50).

For example, you want to know if the father has been sued for sexual harassment, if the parents have ever been sued by a former nanny, if a parent has filed a restraining order against the other, and if they have filed divorce in the past and then decided not to divorce. All of these issues are matters of public record and can be found in civil court files.

At the very least always be sure to ask the parents for caregiver references.

Some questions you might ask include:

1. “Why did your former nanny leave the job?”

2. “Would you mind if I asked your former nanny some questions about working for your family?”

3. “Who can I contact about character references about your family?”

Have you ever checked the background of the parents you worked for? How have you checked their background? What questions should other nannies ask the parents to screen potential employers?


  1. Do any agnecies do background checks on the parents? They ought to. What is their liability if the father "hits" on the nanny for example? Shouldn't agencies protect themselves from placing caregivers in bad homes?But I personally have googled the parents names and emailed former nannies. Then I have merely relied on my instincts. If the parents are yelling during the interview it is not a home I want to work in. Blended families can be difficult, and so on.Allie, Boston area

  2. I honestly wouldn't know what else to ask without sounded disrespectful? I think I could ask about speaking to former nanny and ask why she left and I think if the parents acted defensive then I would have my answer! Drama of any kind is best to avoid. Nanny or 10 yrsKerri H., Chicago suburbs

  3. What resource is suggested to use to do a check on the families as you mentioned…"You may also be interested in any civil litigation involving potential employers ($50)."

  4. I run a nanny website but if I were interviewing as a nanny with a family. I would ask questions like, do you know your neighbors well. Do you have friends or family or where do you work, just to get a feel of what kind of people they are. You could politely ask why they need a nanny. They will let you know if there is nothing to hide.

  5. The prices posted were approximate.

  6. I think you're absolutely right. It's just as important for the caretaker to know about the family as it is for the family to know about the caretaker. I think you have several good suggestions. While you may not need a full scale background check, some information is critical.

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