Do you think that nanny background investigations are unimportant? No? You’re not alone. Studies show that most employers fail to run nanny background checks on the people they hire. This is despite the fact that the media is constantly rife with news about families who have been victims of crimes committed by their nannies.
Take the case of Lucia Hwong Gordon, a philanthropist and composer. Early in April, Gordon traveled with her kids on a vacation. But when she returned, she noticed that some of her jewelry was missing. This included a special ruby and diamond necklace, some of her family heirlooms and her kids’ jewelry. Since there was no sign of a break-in, Gordon asked the nanny, Raquel Santos if she had come across any of the missing jewelry, at which point Santos broke into tears and confessed that she had sold them to two different pawn shops. Gordon visited both shops and – sure enough – her items were on display.
Protect Your Home
The story illustrates how vulnerable you can be when you let a complete stranger into your home. This doesn’t mean you should never hire anyone – that would be almost impossible.
However, it does mean that you should never hire people simply based on their “word,” especially if you plan to leave them around your family. It is a common misassumption that every nanny agency carefully vets the people it has on its list. Although some agencies do, most do not – which means you may unwittingly hire a nanny who has a criminal history. This brings up another interesting point in Gordon’s story…
Even after Gordon had found that the nanny had stolen things, she refused to report her to the agency or the police – possibly because she didn’t want to get the nanny into any more trouble. Then, as the weeks went by, she began to notice that even more things were missing. At this point, she turned to her friend, reality star Ramona Singer, for advice. Singer did not waste a second telling her what to do. She advised her to call the cops instantly. After a sting operation with the cops, Gordon recovered most of her belongings, including several things that she hadn’t even realized were stolen.
Gordon’s story happens every day, but these stories do not always end the same way. Most people are upset when they discover that their nannies have done wrong, but less than 50% of victims actually do something about it. In some cases, the family simply chooses the least difficult option, which is to let the nanny go without pressing charges. Unfortunately, this approach simply leaves the nanny free to work for another unsuspecting family where she can do the same thing.
The Importance of Nanny Checks
Nanny background checks are vital. Carrying out this simple task this will significantly reduce your family’s exposure to threats. Even if the agency reports that it has conducted a background check, do a check of your own or ask for a copy of the report. The following are some of the steps that you can take during the vetting process:
Before you hire a nanny, you should – at the very least – request references and then contact them. Sometimes, speaking to a former employee may reveal things about a nanny’s past or work ethic that could influence your decision. Even if former employers do not come right out and advise you against your decision, you can pick up “vibes” based on their responses. If the speaker sounds guarded and noncommittal, it may be because they are reluctant to let you in on something you should know.
Still, references are not always revealing. After all, most nannies are likely to only offer the contact details of people who will have nothing but good things to say. This is why your use of references should be combined with other background check options.
Working with a Private Investigator
If you are going to run a background check, it is best to avoid using online sites with no ties to a proper investigative agency. Most of these sites simply check online databases for records and then compile this information for you. They do not have access to immigration or criminal records.
Instead, a more effective approach is to work with a private investigator. Private investigators have access to many resources that they can use during a nanny check. For instance, immigration can verify your nanny’s legal status, get information on her former working history and even access her DMV records. A routine nanny check will take less than a day and cost you very little compared to what you stand to lose.
Let Your Nanny Know You’re Running a Background Check
There is no need to hide a nanny background check. In fact, during the interview phase, feel free to let your nanny know that you plan to run a background check before you hire her. It is a good tactic. Most times, if a nanny knows you’ll be conducting a background check, she’ll quickly back off with some make up excuse or come straight out and confess to something she’s hidden from you.
Consider Working with a Nanny Cam
Even if your background checks come up clean, you should still take steps towards protecting your home. A nanny cam is a good way of keeping an eye on your newly-hired nanny. Most cams come with live feeds, which give you a way of monitoring your home even while at work. You may also want to consider installing a home security system for the kids.
The Bottom Line
Hiring the wrong nanny can lead to sad consequences. So why take the chance? It only takes a few minutes to learn more about the person you are about to hire. Before you entrust a nanny with your kids, take a few minutes to speak with former employers in order to get a better idea of what you can expect. You can also enlist the assistance of a private investigation agency to run a criminal background check on your nanny. Most nannies have spotless records. But if you’re about to hire one with a history of crime, you’ll want to know.