The idea of a background check seems like a simple enough solution to anyone who has an interest in safety. However, they’re much more complex than you may think. Here’s an overview of how background checks work in general, on Sittercity, and how you can use them as a part of your screening process.

What Should I Know Before Running a Background Check?

Background checks have a complicated process. There’s no set standard with checks and different results can be returned depending on which databases are being searched. Simply put: there’s no singular source of all crime everywhere—it varies at the state, county, and even city level sometimes.

So How Do I Know What’s Being Checked?

Reach out directly to the background check vendor with any questions you have about what’s being searched. Their customer support team should be happy to help you understand the terms and processes that each search entails. If you have a variety of checks offered to you, this will help you have a better understanding of which check being offered would work best for your needs.

Sittercity’s Background Checks

When running a background check on Sittercity, here are your options:

  • Basic Criminal
  • Enhanced Criminal
  • Motor Vehicle Records

You can see what each of those checks cover here.

Sittercity uses Checkr to process background checks. If you have specific questions about these checks, you can reach out to the Checkr team here.

Using Background Checks As One of Many Screening Tools

At Sittercity our goal is to provide sitters and families with access to a variety of tools and resources to make child care decisions confidently. Background checks are absolutely a very important part of the process, but they shouldn’t be the only screening tool you use, as they have limitations and can provide a false sense of security.

How Could Background Checks Provide A False Sense of Security?

As mentioned above, there’s no singular source of all crime everywhere—it varies at the state, county, and even city level sometimes. In some states, criminal background vendors don’t have access to every court in every county, and lower-level courts are not always searched. As a result, some jurisdictions will only reveal felony-level records.

How Else Can I Screen Candidates?

We strongly recommend that families use a combination of tools and resources, both on and off our platform when screening and evaluating sitter candidates and once a sitter is hired. There’s simply no single solution that can predict inappropriate behavior.

Evaluating Candidates

Background checks don’t look into personality traits, if a sitter might be a right fit for your family, job history, or how they might interact with your children. Consider these screening additional options when evaluating a child care professional on Sittercity:

  • Detailed Profiles
    When you receive applicants for a job or search local caregivers, closely review their experience, education, certifications, and bio.
  • Parent Reviews
    See what other Sittercity parents who’ve hired a particular caregiver in the past have to say. Their insight into a caregiver’s performance and personality can help you decide if someone is a good fit for your family.
  • Messaging
    To narrow down who you want to interview, spend some time messaging with your top options. Make sure the practical information (schedule, rate, etc.) is in alignment before booking an interview.
  • Interviews
    There’s no substitute for the give-and-take of an interview with a potential babysitter or nanny. You can have your more in-depth questions answered and also get a feel for the sitter as a person.
  • Reference Checks
    Reach out to the references listed on the caregiver’s profile to gain additional insight, and don’t hesitate to request more references. Be sure to verify the information your potential caregiver has given you is correct and ask questions. Here are some examples.
  • Trial Day
    This could either be a trip to the park with the entire family and the caregiver, or it could be an hour while you run errands. This will give the kids a chance to interact with them and give you feedback.

After Hiring

Once you’ve hired a sitter, observe them on the job to ensure they’re meeting your expectations, and keep communications frequent. Here are some approaches to consider:

  • Daily Check-ins
    When you get home, ask for a brief progress report on how the day went.
  • Ask Your Kids
    Ask your children open-ended questions about their day, but try not to judge or lead during the discussion. Respect your children’s feelings and always take them seriously, especially negative comments.
  • Ask A Neighbor to Keep An Eye Out
    Enlist a trusted neighbor to keep a casual eye on things when you’re gone. Ask them to let you know if anything seems questionable.
  • Come Home Unannounced
    An unexpected drop-in lets you see how your caregiver interacts with your child. It’s a great way to get a feel for how things are going when you’re not there.
  • Schedule Regular Performance Reviews
    There’s definitely value in making sure you and your caregiver are on the same page, and it’s important to keep the lines of communication open. A performance review is one way to do that.
  • Install a nanny cam
    Installing a nanny cam often helps parents ease any fears about leaving their child with a caregiver.
  • Run Periodic Background Checks
    The information on a background check captures a specific moment in time. After some time has passed, you can run a background check to see if anything new has occurred.

Background checks are an important part of the process but are not the end-all-be-all to screening because they have limitations and can provide that false sense of security. Be sure to leverage a combination of tools on and off the Sittercity platform to exercise safety in the child care search process. If you have any questions, be sure to check out our Trust & Safety Center.

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