MENTOR, Ohio -- Your child is the most important thing to you, so you obviously want to know everything you can about who you’re leaving that child with.
The abundance of digital platforms to find a babysitter have made it easier than ever, but how do you know you’re leaving your child in good hands?
The big Web sites, like Care.com, will do a background check, but charge extra. Many sites and apps will list profiles, but it’s up to you to look into the sitter’s background.
Can you do that... legally?
“Legally, it’s pretty open," says Laura Goble from Backtrack, a nationwide screening company. "You can look at criminal records, you can do educational verification, employment, driving records, sex offender database searches. If you’re doing those all on your own, those are fine legally. If you’re working with a company, you do need to get the applicant’s permission in writing.”
State and county court records are fair game, so you can dig without permission, as long as you’re digging alone. There are, however, some areas to avoid.
“We do recommend you stay away from things like age, sex and other things such as religion," Goble says.
Add to the list marital status and disability status. A good rule of thumb is to just get what you need to know to ensure the safety of your child.
“If they’re going to be driving your child someplace, if they have a driving report. If there’s a DUI or something like that, that’s going to be red flag or important. Criminal records, take a look at what they are. Is it something from a long time ago, is it something simple? Your child is your most important thing. What are going to be things that cause you to say, 'Oh my goodness, I don’t want this person in my home.'"
It is important to remember that background checks are just that, backgrounds. They don't necessarily predict the future behavior of someone. It should just be one tool you use to find a sitter, combined with things like face-to-face interviews and reference checks.
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