Screening a Live Out Nanny

Once you’ve found the nanny you wish to hire, it’s essential to conduct a thorough background screening. Doing so helps you make an educated and informed hiring decision. Even if you have a great gut feeling about a nanny, confirming the feeling with proof of a questionable past is the right thing to do.

But before you start digging into your potential nanny’s past, you’ll need to become knowledgeable on the Fair Credit Reporting Act. You’ll need to get your nanny’s written consent via a release form to conduct the check and you’ll need to notify her of her rights under the act.

Authorization to Work

The first step in conducting your nanny’s background check is verification. You’ll want to verify she’s able to legally accept employment in the United States by completing an I-9 form from the Department of Homeland Security and confirm her identity by checking the appropriate identifying documents.


You’ll also want to verify your candidate’s identity and past employment, education and any credentials or licensing.

It’s important to remember that if the information the nanny provides isn’t correct, the information attained won’t be correct. It’s essential to ensure that the information is accurate, that no transpositions of numbers or letters are made and that all information is truthful before conducting a search.

Contact past employers, educational institutions and licensing boards to verify that the information the nanny provided was truthful.

Be sure to look for gaps in employment and educational history and to inquire as to why such gaps exist.

Check References

At minimum you’ll want to check at least two professional childcare references. Ask open ended questions and pay attention to what the parents say, as well as what they don’t say. Listen to their tone of voice and the words they use to describe the nanny. Ask about duties and responsibilities and inquire as to why the nanny’s position ended.

It’s important to remember that some previous employers will be less than gracious during a reference check phone call. It’s up to you to determine if the parents feel jaded because the nanny left or if there were true performance problems that are behind a bad reference. If a nanny who was with a family for five years gets a poor reference, it’s important to determine if that reference was based on just the last days of employment, where emotions were running high from the impending transition, of if the reference accurately reflects the nanny’s years of service with the family.

In the case of a bad reference, you may wish to ask the nanny if she has any previous letters of reference, cards or notes from the family’s she’d worked for she’d like to share. Most nannies keep these tokens and mementos to both cherish and document their relationship, should they not receive the reference they deserve.

Some parents also like to speak with personal references. While you may think that a candidate would only provide contact information for those would provide stellar references, you would be surprised to learn how much negative information friends and family are willing to disclose about a candidate.

You may wish to ask about the candidate’s temperament, if they’d leave their own children in her care, if they would recommend her to care for children of your children’s ages and if they have any concerns about her judgment. You’ll also want to ask if they’d hire her again.

Social Security Trace

Tracing a Social Security Number allows you to view previous name and addresses used with the Social Security Number. A Social Security Number trace should go back seven years. This important check can reveal aliases and addresses that impact under what names and where a criminal background check should be conducted.

This information is gathered from credit reporting agencies and is attained each time a consumer opens an account or requests credit. When a consumer applies for a credit card, for example, the Social Security Number and identifying information is passed onto the three major credit bureaus. The information included in a Social Security Number trace is compiled from those records.

Conduct a Background Check

Many companies like will conduct a background check on your behalf. Using a company or private investigator that specializes in nanny screening can help to ensure the search is complaint with the laws.

Since the ways records are stored can vary from state to state and jurisdiction to jurisdiction, it’s important that someone who is knowledge about the areas you are searching conduct your search. Most reputable companies hire court runners to physically check the records requested instead of solely relying on database searches.

At minimum you’ll want to check state and county criminal records wherever the nanny lived and worked for the past seven years. It’s also important to check records under any other names the candidate has used.

You’ll also want to check the national sex offender registry and review the nanny’s motor vehicle record.

Some parents also wish to check the nanny’s credit and to conduct a civil records check to see if any liens or judgment have been made against the nanny.

It’s important to remember that a background check contains only information that was found to be associated with the information provided. While hiring a nanny with a clean background check is important, it’s vital to remember that even a clean background check offers no guarantees that a nanny has not or won’t commit a criminal act, it simply shows that there are no records reflecting that she has.

Social Media

Googling a potential nanny and reviewing her Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest in LinkedIn accounts is another way to gather information about a nanny candidate. As you review what’s publically available, you may wish to consider if the information portrays her as a responsible caregiver with sound judgment.

While some employers request their nanny’s social media log in information, others find that a serious violation of privacy rights. And while some nannies will accept their employer’s friend requests on Facebook, others have a strict policy not to be friends with current employers.