Searching for a babysitter or nanny can be overwhelming. In a rush to find someone special, you might forget about an essential step—the background check. Even if you have a good feeling about the person, it’s always best to obtain some basic background information about your candidates. 

Things to Do Before You Run a Background Check

In some states, you are required to take a few steps before you begin running background checks on your babysitter or nanny candidates. 

You should get consent from the individual for a reference and background check. You can have them form a simple form stating that they allow you to call previous employers and obtain specific information. 

Only get what you need. You don’t need to know a candidate’s entire life story. Limit your background search to things that are relevant to your hiring decision. You might want to know about their driving record if they will have to transport your children and their potential criminal record. 

Some questions you should not ask a job candidate include: 

  • Marital status
  • Race or ethnicity
  • Age (You can only ask if they are legally old enough to work)
  • Pregnancy status
  • Religion
  • Disability status
  • Where they were born (You can only ask if they can legally work in the United States)

You should respect your babysitter or nanny’s privacy. 

Types of Background Checks You Should Run on Your Nanny or Babysitter

There is no one-size-fits-all background check for babysitters and nannies. Many agencies and online services offer various information in their personalized background checks. 

Confirm Their Identity

You should request the candidate’s full name and social security number (which you will need for tax purposes). Take a picture of the front and back of their state ID or driver’s license. If they are not a U.S. citizen, ask to see any necessary work permits. 

Call References

Even if they were referred to you by a friend or family member, you should call third-party references for additional security. Ask about any safety concerns and the reason they stopped using the babysitter or nanny. 

Check Social Media Accounts

Anything public is fair game during a background check. Review social media for excessive drinking or evidence of drug usage. 

Verify CPR and First Aid Training

All childcare providers should have this training. It is available at most Red Cross locations and the YMCA. Your potential babysitter or nanny should have a current license or training certificate to show you. 

Run a Criminal Database Search 

Most county courts and state Departments of Corrections have databases where criminal records can be searched. Those records generally go back seven to 10 years and cover misdemeanors, felonies and other convictions. While there is no global website to search for a complete criminal background check, you can input their name into government agency databases to see what you can find. The results will be worth your effort, even if it simply provides ease of mind. 

Check the National Sex Offender Registry

The United States has a publicly accessible National Sex Offender Registry ( database that can be searched with a name. It will provide information about an offender’s risk level, specific offenses and personal descriptive information. It will also have a photograph of the individual so you can verify it is the same person as your candidate. 

Check Child Abuse and Neglect Records if Possible

Around 30 U.S. states allow employers to check child abuse and neglect records through Child Protective Services agencies if you are hiring someone for a childcare position. Those records will include details about non-sexual offenses or complaints against a childcare provider. 

Review Their Driving Record

If your babysitter or nanny will be transporting your child, you should review their driving record from your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. This will provide information about collisions and moving violations they have had in the recent past. You can also ask the potential babysitter or nanny to obtain a copy of the report and provide you with a copy. 

Drug Testing

Drug testing is a more invasive background check, but you might consider it if your potential hire will be spending a significant amount of time with your little ones. Some states allow drug testing while others do not. 

Background Checks Are a Good Idea Before You Hire a Babysitter or Nanny

You will be entrusting your most precious things to a babysitter or nanny—your children. They will also have access to your property and may even have a financial connection if they need access to funds frequently. You should put as much effort as possible into vetting them.