Background Checks

A recent news story that appeared on the ABC affiliate, WISN 12, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, reported the tragic death of a baby girl caused by a babysitter the parents found through a website which provides babysitters and nannies for a fee.  The parents are suing the company for failing to do a background check on the babysitter who caused the death of their child.

The company that provides the babysitters and nannies charges subscribers a monthly fee to search for prospective caregivers.  An extra fee is charged if the subscribers want a background check done.  The parents claim they paid for the most comprehensive check the company offered, which included a criminal court check, a check for outstanding arrest warrants, and a driving record check.  (We know there are all sorts of criminal court checks that can be done, and there is no indication of what sort of check was done – if one was done at all.)

The parents claim the company didn’t check the caregiver they hired because, if they had, they would have discovered that the person hired had twice been convicted of drunk driving and had a battery conviction.  While this person was supposed to be caring for the little girl, she allegedly took a taxi to go buy wine.  Then, while intoxicated, “negligently slammed [the baby] on her head causing a head injury” that caused the little girl’s death.

In the first place, it’s difficult to imagine why the company providing the names of caregivers wouldn’t, for its own protection and the protection of their subscribers, do a fairly thorough background check to avoid situations like this one.  In the second place, it’s impossible to imagine that, if they had done a background check on this particularly caregiver, they would have ever allowed anyone to have hired her through their website!  The company supposedly has 11 million subscribers in 16 countries.  Perhaps they’re too big to check.

Finally, the moral of this tragic story is, if you’re going to pay to use an online service to find a caregiver for children or the elderly, insist on actually seeing the background report and getting the name of the company they claim did the check!  And as a final safeguard for people not familiar with background checking, Google the name of the background checking company to verify that it is legitimate!  Before trusting the life of a child or elderly parent to a third party, make sure you know whom you’re getting!