How Nannies Can Screen Families

Nannies Should Know as Much Info as Possible About a Family Before Accepting a Position
By Debbie Denard

There’s been much talk about how parents can screen the nannies they are considering hiring to care for their children, but when it comes to the nannies screening the parents whom they are considering working for, we mostly hear dead air.

For caregivers who are going to spend their workday in a family’s private home, it’s essential that they know as much as possible about the parents they are considering working for ahead of time so that they are able to make an educated and informed employment decision. This is especially true if a nanny is considering relocating to be a live-in nanny.

While it’s common practice, or at least it should be, for parents to conduct a thorough background screening on the nanny candidate they are considering hiring, when nannies mention that they’d like to screen the family, it often comes as a huge surprise.

Many reputable nanny placement agencies prescreen families before they agree to help them secure a nanny. But even then agencies typically don’t complete background investigations on the parents, instead relying on references and their impression of the family. For nannies who use a reputable agency, however, any amount of prescreening can be a reassuring benefit.

For nannies who find their positions through an online recruiting site, there are ways they can gather information about the parents whom they are considering accepting an employment offer from, in addition to using their own judgment.

Nannies can:

1. Google!
A quick Google search may result in interesting information about potential employers, including media coverage, links to articles they’ve written, or even a link to their social media pages or blogs. When searching a first and last name together, you may even find an employer owned domain. Use additional information like city and state or the company the employer works for to narrow down search results. When sorting through results, however, you’ll want to be sure you’ve got the right person, since many people can have the same name.

2. Check out social media pages.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN and Pinterest may give you insight into both your employers’ personal and professional lives, depending on their security settings, of course. From photos to friends, connections to status updates, there is potential for a lot of information to be gleaned from a visit to a possible employer’s social media page.

3. Search public records.
Depending on where you live, certain public records may be available online. Public records include things like court proceedings, bankruptcies, real estate transactions, tax lien records, domain registry records, professional licenses, professional disciplinary actions, and sex offender registries. Information that is public record is available to the public. Running a credit check and checking other sensitive information, however, would require your employer’s consent.

4. Ask for references.
Speaking to past or current nannies and household employees can give insight into what life is like working with a family. When interviewing a reference, it’s important to listen to their tone of voice and to hear what they don’t say, as much as what they do. Asking situational questions like “Tell me about your favorite outing with the children” or “Tell me about a time when you had to share some difficult news” can help you gain insight into the temperaments, personality and management style of potential employers.

5. Ask appropriate questions.
The most direct way to learn more about a potential employer is to ask them what you want to know. Nannies must take advantage of telephone and in-person interviews. While you’ll clearly want to keep the line of questioning professional, you’ll definitely want to ask open ended questions that have the potential to give you insight into how they operate as family, how they parent, and how they will manage, treat and view their nanny.

6. Run a background check.
At Internet referral site, parents and nannies are encouraged to run background checks on each other as part of the screening and hiring process so that both parties can make an educated and informed employment decision. These checks require consent and can be done directly though the site.

It’s always good practice to let a potential employer know that you’d like to learn more about them and give them the opportunity to provide the information you are seeking. A potential employer who finds out you’ve been looking around for information may question why you didn’t ask for the information directly. If the parents do provide information, it will be up to the nanny whether or not she wishes to verify it.

Just like parents, nannies have a right to know who they will be entering into an employment relationship with. Nannies must consider their personal and financial safety and security when considering offers of employment. To make an educated and informed job decision, nannies should gather and evaluate as much information as possible about a family before accepting a position.

Printed with permission from Debbie Denard of


  1. Although it can be tempting to immediately hire the first nanny you come across who meets all the qualifications you’re looking for, it is definitely a smart decision to do a background check. Though in many cases, you won’t find anything that should deter you from hiring a nanny candidate, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. Below is a list of the background checks that you may do and what information you can find from these checks.Character and Professional References: Reference check your top candidates by contacting people who know your top candidates’ character and people who have employed your candidates in their prior positions. You can learn if your candidates are responsible, ethical, nurturing, how the candidates handled themselves in their prior jobs, and so much more information about how these candidates would likely conduct themselves in your employ. Education and Licensure Verification: If your top candidates claim to have higher education or licensure, it is wise to verify that those claims are accurate. For example, if a candidate claims to have obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education from XYZ University, you can contact the university to verify that the degree was, in fact, conferred. The same is true of verifying licensure. Verification indicates candidate honesty and knowledge. For example, if your child is disabled and you need a babysitter that has medical training, it is essential that you verify that your prospective babysitter really has the CNA licensure that she says she has. Criminal and Sex Offender Registry Checking: These checks will tell you if your nanny candidate has a record of any criminal offenses or are registered on the sex offender registry. Each state lists its residents who are registered sex offenders. The lists are accessible via Internet. Criminal searches can be obtained on sites such as using their online investigation service.Credit History: The credit history determines how…

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