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Christine Lagendyk | 8 April, 2021

Whether your loved ones are the 2-legged kind, or the furry 4-legged kind, when you need a caregiver, your first priority is finding someone who’s reliable and trustworthy. Caregiver sites, like Care.com and Sittercity, have simplified the process by helping you find individuals who are available in your community with just a few clicks, making them a convenient solution for finding childcare, senior care, and pet care for your loved ones.

Caregiver sites provide useful information such as caregivers’ experience, availability, and salary expectations. While this information is helpful in narrowing down the pool of candidates during an initial search, further pre-employment screening like checking references and conducting online background checks are an essential part of the hiring process.

Most caregiver sites conduct background screening on their caregivers, and, while this is intended to offer peace of mind, their background checks can be ambiguous, confusing and limited in what they cover

Screening on Caregiver Sites Is Confusing and Inconsistent

Not all caregiver sites require online background checks, but most of them do. The platforms that require a background check typically apply an icon called a badge to profiles of the caregivers who’ve passed a background check. 

A badge on a caregiver’s profile may give them an edge over other candidates, but it’s important to understand what a badge means and what the limitations of it are. Terminology can be confusing and disclaimers can be alarming, leaving you wondering about the reliability of their employment screening. Plus, inconsistencies between the various sites about what’s included in their online background checks makes it impossible to compare caregivers across different sites. 

A Cautionary Tale

While caregiver sites usually provide trustworthy and reliable caregivers, human error occasionally results in background checks falling through the cracks. When this happens, it allows for sitters with past offences to post their services on the sites. 

Take the case of one Denver woman who hired a dog sitter from a reputable care service. She met with the care provider in advance and he seemed respectable and trustworthy. Before leaving her dogs in his care for two weeks, she laid out the house rules: no drugs in the house, hands off the homeowner’s liquor, and stay out of the master bedroom and master bathroom.

When she returned from her vacation, she found her bathrobe in the living room and women’s clothing on her bed. On his Instagram profile, she found a picture he had posted of himself taking a bubble bath in her tub, candles lit all around, drinking her very expensive wine. He had moved her television from her bedroom, put it on her toilet, and was watching a Cowboys football game. 

The woman filed a police report and it was then that she discovered that the sitter was a felon and was currently on probation. When the caregiver site was asked, they couldn’t explain how the woman’s dog sitter was able to post his services on their site with a felony conviction.

What To Do When You’ve Found ‘The One’

After combing through several caregiver sites, and scrutinizing countless caregiver profiles, you’ve found a caregiver that you feel good about. They have relevant experience, good reviews, and a badge on their profile to show they’ve submitted a clean online background check. They appeared reliable and trustworthy in the interview and you feel confident that the candidate would be a good choice.

It’s tempting to seal the deal at this point but no matter how wonderful a caregiver seems, there are a couple more steps you should complete before offering them the job.

Check Their References

Checking references may seem unnecessary when a caregiver has met all your criteria, but this is an essential pre-employment screening tool. Calling references can help you verify the accuracy of a candidate’s employment and learn how they function in a work environment. 

5 Revealing Questions to Ask References

Ask your applicant to provide 2 to 3 recent references. Get the information you need to make the right hiring decision by asking their references these 5 revealing questions:

  1. How long did the caregiver work for you?
  2. What were their responsibilities?
  3. How many, and what were the ages, of the children they cared for? In the case of pets, how many pets did they care for?
  4. Why did they leave? 
  5. Were you satisfied with their job performance? Why or why not?

Conduct Your Own Background Check

Finding a caregiver that has a badge indicating they’ve provided a clean online background check is a good first step but it doesn’t replace doing your own due diligence. 

4 Benefits of Running Your Own Background Check

Your standards may be higher than those of the caregiver site or the site may have neglected to run a background check. Whatever the reason, conducting your own pre-employment screening is highly recommended. Here are 4 main benefits of running your own background check:

  1. You will get the most recent sex offender and criminal records.
  2. You can check alternative names, like maiden names, and associated criminal records.
  3. You can screen for driving history, traffic violations, and civil records.
  4. You will get a copy of the report so you can see the results first hand.
How to Choose the Right Online Background Check

A comprehensive online background check can reveal more about a potential caregiver than just criminal history. It can also give you insight into a person’s character and lifestyle—insight that will help you make an informed hiring decision.

Many background check providers offer packages designed specifically for caregivers. Their basic background check package typically includes all the essential elements you would need to properly screen a caregiver. 

Drug testing, education, employment, and reference verification, as well as character assessments performed by law enforcement officials, are available options if you want to dig deeper into a caregiver’s past.

You Deserve Peace of Mind

Hiring the wrong caregiver can have disastrous consequences. Using an experienced, reputable online background check provider to vet candidates from caregiver sites will add an extra layer of security, and will give you confidence that you are putting the lives of your loved ones in safe hands.

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