Peace of mind is everything when arranging for a babysitter to take care of your children. If you intend to employ a total stranger, the only way you can achieve total peace of mind is to run exhaustive checks on anyone whom you consider leaving in charge. It’s not enough to make an assumption that someone ‘seems like a nice lady’ just because they demonstrate good manners and dress neatly. You know yourself that when you are trying to educate your children about stranger danger, it’s difficult to make the point clear that even though someone looks ‘normal’, they could be dangerous. This is where you need to heed your own advice and while instinct is a valuable tool, more concrete evidence is required when selecting a babysitter. After all, you are entrusting them with the lives of your precious children.
How do you find out what you need to know?
Your first point of reference is the prospective babysitter herself. During the initial interview, feel free to ask whatever you need to, to feel confident about her experience and her background.
What to ask
- Ask for references from previous employers
- What ages of children have you looked after before?
- Is there anything you should tell me about your background?
You can gauge her trustworthiness in this initial stage, from her responses and her comfort level in providing you with the answers.
Your prospective babysitter should have provided you with references from previous employers. Not only must you read these but you must also contact the families to confirm that the references are bona fide. You can ask a series of questions here too.
- Why was this person selected to care for your children?
- What was your overall impression of her suitability?
- Was she reliable and punctual?
- What were her duties while in your employ?
- Did you experience any difficulties with this person?
- How old were your children when she cared for them?
- For what reason did she stop working with your family?
- How highly would you recommend her services?
- Would you hire her again?
Pay attention to the tone of the conversation. If the previous employer appears to be holding back on information, or if you sense any negativity in their comments, reconsider hiring the babysitter.
More comprehensive background checks
If what you’ve learned is not enough to grant you the peace of mind you’re seeking, there are other avenues to find out what you need to know. Under federal law, you as the employer are required to obtain written permission from the prospective babysitter before running these checks. If you get her go-ahead, you already have a good sign that she has nothing to hide, but you can feel free to continue your search. As mentioned earlier, peace of mind is everything.
- DMV records – A babysitter’s clean driving record is essential when her duties involve dropping the children off and picking them up from school or other activities.
- Criminal records – Alarm bells will ring if a criminal record check uncovers anything untoward.
- Lawsuits and bankruptcies – These will enable you to determine somewhat the character of the person you are looking to hire. If they can’t maintain their financial or legal matters, how can they look after your children effectively?
There are many, many background check companies offering their services over the Internet, and often, they will provide almost instantaneous results.
When selecting a babysitter, take your time and do your utmost to find someone deserving of the role of looking after your children.