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What does a "comprehensive nanny background check" consist of?

Background checks provide agencies and parents with extremely important tools. However, it is very important to be aware of the limitations inherent in background checks. Be aware that there is no such thing as a national criminal records check. There is one "nationwide" criminal database, the FBI database, which is known as the NCIC (National Crime Information Center). The FBI database is NOT public record and cannot be legally accessed by anyone other than criminal justice agencies. Aside from this limitation, it is important to be aware that the agency generally does not order any type of criminal records search until after you have extended the offer of employment and the candidate has accepted. Families should always insure that the employment offer is contingent on a clean background check, and not allow the nanny to start until the results have been obtained.


Families requesting a pre-employment background check on a nanny candidate are subject to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The family should only order these checks through a FCRA compliant provider, and must themselves adhere to the FCRA mandated documentation and candidate communication processes. Most important of these is the family is responsible to obtain a signed release from the candidate authorizing the search before the search is ordered. The pre-employment background checks run through this website are FCRA compliant.

NannyNetwork.com now allows you to order pre-employment background searches for as little as $49.95 via our affiliate, 4nannies.com using a secure server. ORDER BACKGROUND CHECK.

SSN Trace

The first step in most background investigations is a Social Security Number Trace. A social security trace is a report that will return all current and reported addresses for the last 7 to 10 years on a specific individual based on his or her social security number. It is imperative to verify the information provided by a candidate concerning her identity and where she has lived. This is the foundation of a solid background investigation. By tracing the SSN history over 7 years, it is much more difficult for a candidate to hide her identity and possible criminal history. The SSN trace provides you the opportunity to cross check name and previous residence history as provided in the job application for possible inconsistencies. Additionally, the SSN trace validates the choice of which jurisdiction(s) should be searched for criminal records. Lastly, the SSN trace will uncover known aliases - other names the applicant may have gone by - another key part of a comprehensive background check.

This is NOT a check of the Social Security Administration’s records. It is a check of credit bureau databases by Social Security number. The verification will tell you where and when the Social Security number was issued and what name or names are associated with the use of the number. This is particularly useful when the applicant is originally from another part of the country.

Statewide Criminal Checks

It is possible to search statewide for criminal records in some states. Generally state-wide records repositories only record felony convictions, or convictions that resulted in incarceration in a state prison. While the nanny industry has an estimated 5% 'hit' rate on nanny candidates searched, the vast majority of these 'hits' are misdemeanor records. Misdemeanor records are not generally recorded in state record repositories, and do not generally result in jail time. Most often a criminal records search is done on a county by county basis.

From a practical perspective, extremely slow response times on statewide criminal records searches and their inherent weaknesses make county level checks a better option for most employers.

Please note that effective August 2003 New York ONLY makes statewide checks available, these do include misdemeanors, and the NYS fees make these considerably more expensive than single county checks.

County Level Criminal Checks

Conducting county level criminal checks is the methodology used in most parts of the country. In most places felony and misdemeanor records are maintained in a combined index. However, there are some parts of the country in which felonies and misdemeanor records must be checked separately. Also, in some counties online access to the criminal courts index is possible, in other counties researchers must physically go to the courthouse to "hand search" the records.

DMV Records

Driving records are an important element in any comprehensive background check. Even if the nanny will not be driving the children the DMV report is extremely important, as it can point to a substance abuse problem if the applicant has been convicted of DUIs. The DMV record can also speak to the candidate's judgement - excessive speeding or charged accidents may indicate a candidate who is impulsive or exercises poor judgement.

Sex Offender Registries

This is an increasingly popular part of a pre-employment background check for child and elder care workers. These are maintained at a state level. Most states allow the electronic reporting of search results, while a few require that the results be mailed to the hiring family.

Credit Reports

NannyNetwork.com cannot provide access to individual credit reports via our website. Families desiring this information should contact a reputable credit reporting agency directly. Be advised, however, that all of the credit bureaus have tightened access to this information and will no longer accept residential based businesses (for us this means families) as users. Because of this added level of credit bureau security we are unable to offer these checks. Our recommendation would be if this is important to your job staffing decision (a personal assistant who will have access to your bank funds for example) you may request that the applicant obtain their own credit report directly and share it with you.

NannyNetwork.com allows you to order a nanny pre-employment background check online - Click Here! to place order via our secure server. Questions? Check out our FAQ.

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