When you hire a babysitter, you want to be sure they have a clean history and are experienced enough for the job.
Here are some tips on how to do a comprehensive background check.
1. Do A DBS Check
The first step is to ensure that the babysitter doesn’t have a criminal background that would disqualify her from the job.
The best way to check for any criminal issues is by doing a DBS (Disclosure & Barring Service) check.
You will not be able to request a DBS check on the babysitter yourself. You can ask them to request their own DBS check and bring you the certificate or work through a nanny agency or background check service to do the check (with the permission of the babysitter).
Make sure you request for an enhanced DBS check, which is the required level for people working with children or vulnerable adults.
Note: A DBS check only shows infractions and crimes, if any, which are on file regarding the individual. They may still have committed other crimes for which they were not caught. Do not rely on a DBS check alone to hire a babysitter.
2. Check Ofsted Registration Records
Individuals who plan to go into childcare must register with Ofsted. Ask for their registration certificate.
To ascertain that the babysitter is registered, go to Ofsted’s website and enter their registration number. If they are registered, you’ll see their inspection reports.
3. Ask For References
Before hiring a babysitter, ask them to provide 2-3 references. Ideally, they should be past employers who can provide helpful details about their own experience with the childminder.
Make sure the references are accurate and are not relatives or friends of the babysitter.
When you reach out to the references remember to request as much information as you need.
I recommend having a standard questionnaire that you go through when you call each reference. Have 10-20 questions, starting with the most important ones in case the person doesn’t have a lot of time to answer everything.
Ask how the babysitter handled children, how they relate to people and how they respond to different situations.
To make sure the reference is legit, ask how well they know the babysitter and for how long she worked for them. Ask about their qualities (both good and bad), whether they need a lot of supervision and direction and anything you should know before you hire them.
A legit reference will usually provide very detailed answers.
4. Check Online Reviews
Most websites that list babysitter services also allow reviews from parents and guardians. Read the reviews before you hire them.
Often, they will give you important insight into the individual’s temperament, experience and skills.
5. Ask Them About Their Experience
It’s not enough to get an experienced babysitter, they must be experienced in specific areas that apply to your situation.
If you have a new born, it’s not a good idea to hire a babysitter who is used to looking after 5-10 year olds.
Infants require special care and a whole different set of skills.
The same applies if you have a child with special needs. Look for a babysitter who has experience looking after such a child.
A document showing they are skilled in taking care of special needs children would put you at ease; maybe a course certification or something similar.
If there are no supporting documents, then ascertain through background check and references that they have experience looking after a child with special needs.
Whether you have a new born or a 10-year old, you should also make sure that the babysitter is well versed in first aid routines. I strong recommend only hiring babysitters who have taken a first aid course and have the certifying documents.
6. Check Their Social Media
This one can be a bit controversial and can feel like going a step too far. But checking social media accounts of potential employees is standard for many employers today. And since you’ll be an employer, it’s warranted.
If you want you can tell them that you’ll be looking at their social media feeds. This will also ensure you get the correct profile name.
The aim is to look for any red flags that could put your kids at risk.
If their profile is set to private, there isn’t much you can do about it. Use other methods to check on their background.
7. Have A Probation Period
After you hire a babysitter or nanny, it is a good idea to keep a close eye on them until you feel that you can completely trust them.
The best way to do this is by using a hidden nanny cam.
Note that by law, you need to tell them that there is a hidden camera. Hide the camera in a general area like the living room or kitchen. Do not put it where they expect privacy such as the bathroom.
I recommend a wireless nanny cam which you can live stream from your phone even when you are at work.