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How can I find a safe babysitter or nanny?

One of the best places to start is with recommendations from friends and family members. Asking people you trust for the names of people they find trustworthy can go a long way toward providing peace of mind. If you know someone who recently hired a babysitter, ask them about their experiences. They might be ready to recommend a specific babysitter or nanny, or they could at least share useful advice about the process.

You can also find child care through various agencies and services. Some online services, for example, match childcare providers with families nationwide. These types of services can be helpful, but keep in mind that they tend to be more expensive than hiring someone directly. Instead of paying the babysitter or nanny directly, you pay the agency, which keeps a percentage as their fee.

Regardless of where you find your sitter, thorough pre-employment screening is an essential part of the process. This includes interviews and background checks. You want to make sure that you find someone with the right kind of babysitting experience for your unique needs.

How do I screen a babysitter or potential nanny before hiring?

Choosing a sitter is similar in many ways to choosing a daycare for your child. Both involve asking questions and doing research to look for positive attributes and screen out negative ones. With a potential nanny or sitter, however, you are essentially hiring an employee rather than choosing a service, which means it is best to follow a complete hiring process.

First, invite applicants to fill out a Job Application Form that includes a job description with key information like whether the gig is part-time, full-time, or live-in. You may also detail any specific qualifications you require, such as experience with a certain age group or caring for children with certain medical conditions or other special needs. Completed application forms can provide you with general information about an applicant, such as their phone number, references, and an overview of their babysitting experience. You can get much more in-depth information when you conduct interviews.

It is up to you whether you want to do in-person or virtual interviews. Your interview questions can cover almost anything related to the babysitting or nannying job and the applicant’s qualifications.

Background checks are a good way to screen potential babysitters before you invite them into your life. Before running a check, be sure to ask applicants to sign a Consent to Background and Reference Check, which is required by law in order to perform many types of background checks. To complete the check, applicants are generally required to provide some personal information, such as a driver’s license number or Social Security number (SSN).

The vetting process may include the following:

  • Call  any provided references and past employers. Perform necessary reference checks to ensure that they are who they say they are.
  • Perform a criminal background check to see if there are any relevant criminal records. You may also want to check your state’s sex offender registry.
  • If the babysitter or nanny might drive your children anywhere, ask for a copy of each applicant’s driver’s license so you can pull their driving records.
  • Be sure t o ask if the caregiver has any certifications that can help put your mind at ease, such as first aid or CPR.

Once you have selected someone to be your new babysitter or nanny, you can have them sign a Child Care Contract or Nanny Agreement that lays out all of their job duties and your expectations. Parents can also provide the new caregiver with Child Care Instructions to help them learn the children’s routines and needs. If the caregiver is expected to transport the children anywhere, a Child Care Authorization Form can ensure that they are able to do so.

What are some red flags that might make me want to look elsewhere for child care?

Common red flags for potential babysitters or nannies may include:

  • A lack of references.
  • Reluctance to consent to a background screening or to let you contact past employers.
  • Troubling information or activity on their social media accounts.
  • Serious issues on their driving record.
  • Criminal history.
  • Serious legal troubles, such as registration on the sex offender database or a history of child abuse.

The last couple of items on the above list may legally disqualify someone from working as a child care worker. Even if the laws of your state do not exclude them from working in child care, that kind of background would give any parent pause.

How can I make sure my nanny or babysitter is safe and a good fit?

The most robust vetting and screening processes in the world cannot guarantee a perfectly smooth child care experience, especially if it’s the first time a babysitter or nanny is caring for your child. For any number of reasons, they might turn out not to be a good fit.

It is fairly common for parents to supervise a new nanny or babysitter when they start the job. They may simply want to observe how the caregiver interacts with the children, along with how well the children get along with the caregiver. Parents also want to be on the lookout for signs of abuse, neglect, or other unacceptable behavior, especially when the children are too young to communicate effectively. Eventually, working parents typically leave the babysitter or nanny to their duties. Even then, parents can still ensure the proper level of care by using nanny cams to keep an eye on the children.

More questions? Ask a lawyer!

If you have any questions or concerns about your rights and obligations as a parent or employer, you can contact a Rocket Lawyer network attorney today for affordable advice and answers.

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.

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