3 Ways to Run a Nanny Background Check

picture of nanny annoyed with children playing

You can never be too careful when it comes to the safety and comfort of your children. That’s why hiring a nanny is a tremendous task. You need to take every precaution and fully screen all applicants. We always suggest running a nanny background check too.

Interviewing someone will give you some indicators of the type of person you’re dealing with. You might get a great vibe from them, alternatively, something may just feel off about them. If you’re ready to take the extra precaution or you have a hard time reading people, it’s time to run a background check. Let’s be real, you don’t know who you’re dealing with based on a question-and-answer conversation. Sure, you can get references, and you always should. However, how do you know how reliable the references are? Is this person really who they say they are? The reasons to run a background check on them outweigh the reasons not to. Fortunately, there are many ways how to find out if you can trust your nanny.

nanny holding children

3 Ways to Run a Nanny Background Check…

A thorough background check will reveal any misdemeanors or felonies on a person’s record. Depending on the state, it usually goes back seven to ten years. Since your prospective nanny will probably be driving your children around, it would be wise for you to also run a motor vehicle report. You can get this through the motor vehicle division of the state that has issued the applicant’s driver’s license.

1. Use an Online Background Service

There are two types of ways to get background information on someone. Both are regulated by the law so listen up carefully! The first is a service like to run a nanny background search. They search for public records from all over the country. Just enter the name and they scan millions of public records to retrieve results in a matter of seconds. If the nanny is free, you can use this service. However, you are NOT allowed to use this service if you’re hiring someone, ie: if you pay your nanny this is a no-go.

If you are paying the nanny, you’ll need to a background check service approved by the FCRA for employment checks. These are the same types of background checks for tenants, credit checks, loans, etc. You can consider using a service like GoodHire for this type of search. Also, you must notify the nanny that you’re running a background check on them.

Pros of a Background Check

It’s easy and the results are instant. How hard is it to enter a first and last name into a search bar? You want to know everything about this person, and it’s right there in front of you – their employment history, address information including former places they lived, and information on living relatives. Most importantly, you will find out if they have a criminal record.

Cons of a Background Check

Online background check services may not have information on non-citizens. If your prospective nanny is not a U.S. citizen, ask to see their passport and any work permits they have. Have them fill out an I-form, which you can use to prove their identity and work status. You can confirm the information by looking it up on the [U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.

2. Check Public Records

If you’d prefer to take matters into your own hands and enjoy a bit of sleuthing, then looking up court records is the option for you.

Court records are mostly considered public records. It’s your right to check them and see if your candidate has any kind of criminal record. You will need the person to provide you with their full name, age, and address from the last seven to ten years.

Once you get their personal information, check the websites of the county and superior courts of all the places they lived. When you’ve determined the courts corresponding to their current and previous addresses, it’s easy to find any existing criminal records. Most court systems have a case lookup service on the court’s website where you can also search by name. The courts will have records of any felonies or misdemeanors listed under the person’s name.


You’re doing the work, so you’re not spending any money. Plus, you’re going to the direct source of information, so you know it’s correct.


Taking this route is a little time-consuming, and you run the risk of wasting time if a person has given you false information. Trying to look for public records in the wrong court jurisdiction with the wrong name is an exercise in futility. In addition, some criminal records might not be online.

nanny with child

3. Reference Check

This option involves coming up with your own system of screening that involves interviewing on your part. Get a list of people the candidate has worked for and their contact information. Contact those people and get their perspective on the individual.

You’ll want to have a series of questions on hand to ask your references: Is the person kind and patient? Are they responsible? Can they handle emergencies? Did the previous children like her?


This is a quick way to gauge the effectiveness of your prospective nanny. It’s always great to talk to someone who’s worked with the person.


You can never be too sure since you are getting a reference from a stranger you know nothing about. This is an evaluation that’s completely subjective. When it comes to hiring solely based on references, you’ll be relying on your gut instinct.