Lawrence Ryan Investigations

Ryan Investigations Chicago Illinois
What You Need to Know Before Hiring a Nanny

Private Investigator’s Guide to Nanny Background Checks

Table of Contents


Entrusting your children and house in the hands of a stranger is never an easy thing to do, especially if you can’t rely on recommendations from your friends or family.

However, many busy parents need outside help to care for their children and, if the grandparents or other trustworthy persons are not an option, hiring a nanny is one of the few options left.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2018, there were 1,160,000 childcare workers in the United States.

The good news is that today there are many ways to make sure you’re hiring the right nanny for your children.

In this article, we will guide you through the details of how you can feel confident you hire a nanny that is a good fit for your home.

First, What is a nanny background check?

Whether you’re hiring a nanny through a nanny agency, a job advert, or based on recommendations from other parents or family members, nowadays you need to run a background check.

A background check helps you make an idea about the candidate’s past and their professionalism, trustworthiness, and experience with children.

It also establishes the authenticity of the applicant’s personal information, as well as give you access to other essential information regarding the candidate.

What information is included in a background check?

There are different types of background checks available. But, they are not equal. A comprehensive report gives you access to essential information about the candidate, including:

Identity confirmation

Based on the candidate’s full name, social security number, and driver’s license, you can find out all the necessary details about their identity; if the candidate is not a US citizen, you should also ask for their passport number and work permit.

Criminal records

A seven-year criminal record check will give you access to information regarding the candidate’s possible:

  • Arrests
  • Convictions
  • Sex offenses
  • Court records
  • Warrants

However, you need to know the candidate’s address history; it can be easy to obtain when working with a private investigator.

Driving records

If your nanny is expected to drive your child anywhere, you should also get access to their driving records report.

Since this is a rather laborious process that involves checking with the DMV offices from every state where the applicant had held a driver’s license, and each state has different regulations.

It’s best to collaborate with a professional that can deal with all the formalities.

Things get even more complicated if the candidate has held an international driver’s license.

Sex offender registry

Every state has a sex offender registry which can be accessed by anyone.

A sex offender registry check is vital for your peace of mind and the well-being of your child.

If the candidate has lived in a different country, you should check the country’s public database of sex offenders.

Child abuse records

Every state’s child protective services keep records of child abuse and neglect.

However, since not all of them are disclosed to the public, it’s important to collaborate with a professional who knows how to get access to them according to the state’s laws.

Reference check

A background check is a great way to check all the references mentioned by your candidate and attest to their truthfulness.

Based on the applicant’s employment history, you can contact former employers and discuss the nanny’s capabilities and work habits.

What Do You Need to Know Before Hiring a Nanny?

Determine the expectations you have from your nanny

The first step of this rather challenging journey is to set your expectations clearly and create a job description for your nanny.

Since there is no pre-established job description for nannies, it all depends on what you need your nanny to do.

Many people tend to add housekeeping to the duties of a nanny.

While some nannies may provide such services, they usually limit their tasks to caring for your children.

This is why it’s important to make a comprehensive list of your nanny’s duties.

You also need to decide if you need a live-in or live-out nanny and determine their work schedule.

Make sure you include their days off and, of course, the salary. Once all these “technical” details are set, you can move to the next step.

Take into account the candidate’s experience

The attributes of your nanny will probably depend on the salary you’re willing to give them.

An experienced nanny with an outstanding education is going to cost you a lot more than, let’s say, an au pair.

However, this doesn’t mean an au pair is not a good choice too.

A thorough review of their background can bring you peace of mind even if you’re hiring a nanny with less experience.

As long as the information gathered on them reveals that she or he is a trustworthy person with an acceptable education level and no criminal record, you can consider them for the position.

When it comes to experience, a previous babysitter, daycare provider, or teacher are great candidates for the position you’re offering.

Assess the applicant’s education level

Since there is no official nanny qualification or college, any education can be taken into account when hiring a nanny.

A nanny agency usually requires for their candidates to have at least a high school diploma/GED.

However, a college degree and/or childcare qualification will usually set the candidates apart and make it easier for you to choose a nanny for your children.

A great nanny is recommended by degrees obtained from programs such as the Child Development Associate (CDA) program or other similar associations and institutions.

Any certificate or qualification that attests to the candidate’s childcare education should be considered a plus for your candidate.

Establish a set of minimum requirements

A nanny is a person that will act both as a caregiver and role model for your children, in your absence.

It’s very important to establish a set of minimum requirements the nanny needs to meet to make it easier for you to shortlist the best candidates for the position.

It is almost impossible to find the perfect fit for the job, and it will take time to get to know the person you choose as a nanny, but this set of minimum requirements will help you to get there.

Then you can make a different column with “nice-to-have” skills that will make the final list even shorter and simplify things.

While it may be essential for the nanny to have experience with kids with allergies, the fact that they also know how to play children’s games or have an incredible fun personality can count as a plus.

Once you have your (realistic) set of minimum requirements established, you’ll have a good starting point to compare candidates and narrow down your choices.

Create an attractive job advert

A well-thought job advert will attract suitable applicants and help you find the nanny of your dreams faster.

For this reason, it’s very important to create an attractive job advert that will meet all the requirements of experienced and reliable nannies and highlight your family’s personality.

Only this way you can find a nanny that has the right temperament for your children and family.

The best way to write a good job offer is to look at it from the perspective of a potential nanny.

Your tone needs to be polite yet not too formal, and your ad needs to include clear details about the position and essential information, such as if your family has a dog, if you need your nanny to have a driver’s license or if you need them to work full time, part-time, short term, or long term.

You need to make sure your job advert will attract the right candidates for the position to save time with the hiring process.

Need help writing a job description? Check out this article by Zip Recruiter.

Prepare a thorough interview

The interview plays a vital role in the nanny hiring process and it’s essential to make sure you conduct a rigorous one that will help you get to know the candidate.

Decide where you would like to conduct the interviews and how long they should last.

For security reasons, it’s best to have an interview in a public place, like a coffee shop or public library.

Also, make sure you schedule the interviews when you have more free time and you’re not stressed.

If you hurry things up, you might miss important details about the candidate and end up choosing a nanny that it’s not the right fit for your family.

However, if time or location is a problem for you, you can always conduct Skype interviews.

The interview should include questions about their experience in the field, as well as their education and personality.

This way, you can see if you have compatible childcare philosophies and principles.

Make sure you tell candidates about your family and children, and even a bit about yourself to help the candidate picture working for you.

Ask for documents, certificates, and degrees

When hiring a nanny, you will probably receive numerous resumes listing a variety of professional achievements and skills.

However, it’s not unusual for candidates to lie in their application to be considered for the position.

It’s essential to go through the candidate’s resume in depth during the interview and ask for copies of all the documents that make a difference for their application.

You can ask for degree copies, as well as for their passport copy, driving record, and even criminal history.

Make sure you include all these requests in each interview, so you can have a solid base of resumes from where you can choose and differentiate the candidates easier.

Differences in Free, Low Cost, and Adv. Background Checks?

Now that you know the steps to pick the right nanny, you need to make sure everything you have been told is accurate. More importantly, your family will be spending time with someone you can trust.

Infographic Explaining the Cost of a Background Check

We are going to explore three different types of background checks available:

Free background checks

A free background check is limited to public records and doesn’t provide accurate and reliable information. Typically, they are either conducted by persons with no or little experience in the field or by computers using unreliable algorithms that can very well provide information about a different person with the same name.

You get what you pay for.

Low-cost background checks

Even though the low-cost background checks dig deeper and have access to more databases than free background checks, they usually do not take the necessary steps to verify the data and confirm its authenticity.

Advanced background checks

Usually run by private investigators, the background checks have access to a large pool of public and private data; they provide important information, like:

  • Reference checks
  • Past addresses
  • Criminal records
  • Drug test records
  • Education records
  • Former employers
  • Court Records Search

Moreover, they verify the information manually to guarantee their veracity and make sure the criminal background check is FCRA compliant, so you won’t expose yourself to a lawsuit for conducting an illegal background check.


From thorough interviews or if you run nanny background checks for pre-employment screening, the available information that can be gathered before hiring a nanny allows you to make an informed decision. No matter if you live in Glencoe, Joliet, Northbrook, Winnetka, or outside the state of Illinois, find out what you need to know before hiring a nanny and make sure you don’t skip any steps during the hiring process.

After all, the safety and well-being of your children depend on this.