Hiring a professional nanny can be one of the more important decisions a family will make. Allowing someone—likely a stranger—to come into your home and take care of your loved ones, especially your children, who may be vulnerable and not in tuned to their surroundings, is a frightening proposition. As parents, we have the responsibility of finding and hiring a capable, dependable and, most important, trustworthy caretaker of their children. The role of the nanny can vary depending upon the family’s needs. A professional nanny may be called upon for a few hours per day or on specific days, such as when the parents are going out for the evening. Some nannies are responsible for children during the entire work day, including driving them to and from school. Because of the vital role a professional nanny plays in the childcare environment, a detailed and thorough background check must be an integral part of the hiring process. While background checks must be thorough, these checks do not have to rise to unaffordable levels.
Recently, a number of news stories have been published about parents retaining private investigators who charge very high hourly rates or utilize multiple investigators in conducting surveillance of a nanny. While I am sure that these investigators do an outstanding job, there are not many families who have the resources to spend thousands of dollars conducting a background check, regardless of the reason. The good news is that it is not necessary to pay a private investigation firm astronomical fees and retainers in order to conduct a thorough background investigation on a potential nanny. Firstly, the private investigator you hire, either to conduct a background investigation or surveillance, must be licensed, bonded and insured. There are many variables that come into play when placing someone under surveillance, especially in a city like Manhattan, and it’s important that the client is protected in case something does go wrong.
Once a professional nanny has been hired, its important to advise the individual that a background check will be conducted, including a criminal profile, and gauge the reaction of the nanny. Most nannies respect and appreciate the decision to conduct a background check by the family for being diligent and professional in the hiring process. However, if the nanny appears to be concerned and not willing to consent to a check, it should be considered a red flag against proceeding with the hiring of that individual. Many families make the mistake of not conducting a background check because they really like the nanny or the nanny came from a reliable recommendation; however, that should not be used as a justification against conducting a background check. Taking the important step of conducting a background check should not be dismissed just because the nanny is likeable or has good recommendations.
Many wonder what goes into a thorough background check and how much it costs. Once you have hired a licensed private investigation firm, they will work with you to determine your needs and what can and cannot be accomplished based on your budget. Again, a thorough check does not need to break the bank nor does it need to include surveillance. A licensed private investigator will conduct a proprietary database search, which will give the client a detailed snapshot of the professional nanny’s background.
This search will confirm date of birth, social security number, and address. It will also provide information on any liens, judgments, tax suits and bankruptcy matters. It may reveal other names and addresses that may not have been reported by the nanny. It may provide some out-of-state criminal and civil matters, as well as sex offense charges. There will be times when the database search comes back with limited data; however, this is not necessarily a red flag. It is important to remember that some individuals who become professional nannies are recent immigrants to the United States, and there may not be a lot of data compiled on them.
Once the database search has been completed, the next and maybe most important step would be a comprehensive criminal background screening on the nanny. This would include a statewide criminal search, as well as the National Sex Offender Registry search. If the professional nanny will be transporting children, it would also be critical to run a motor vehicle search in order to verify that the applicant has a valid driver’s license and a clean driving record. Finally, the family may consider having the PI check past employment and education, as well as to verify any special licenses or training.
When is placing the professional nanny under surveillance necessary? As mentioned at the top of this post, there have been a number of recent news stories about investigators charging clients high fees to conduct surveillance. And, to their credit, these investigators have observed nannies committing unscrupulous deeds such as buying alcohol with the children present or talking on a cell phone when the children are left alone unsupervised. These are serious issues that certainly should lead to the immediate termination of the nanny and perhaps even a criminal complaint. With that said, there has been much paranoia and fear permeating our society of late, including the non-stop talk of terrorism, that may be clouding our perception of people and situations. If a nanny has been recommended by a professional agency—most agencies typically conduct their own, albeit limited, background search—or referred by a friend of the family and if the nanny has passed a detailed background check conducted by a licensed private investigator, surveillance should not be necessary unless the family feels that the nanny may be hiding something. However, if the client requires surveillance, choosing a licensed and experienced private investigation firm like Integrated is imperative.
Hiring a professional nanny is a major and emotional step, and hiring the proper investigation company to look into the nanny is equally important. When checking on a nanny, the search needs to be detailed and thorough. A nanny background check is the first place where one should not consider skimping on the search. Integrated Security Services has conducted numerous background checks for private clients and nanny agencies, Integrated has extensive experience with these types of investigations and have exceptionally knowledgeable case managers who will work with the prospective clients and recommend which search will be most advantageous and financially prudent given the unique circumstances of the situation.