Watch the video on how to investigate a babysitter.
(KMOV) — People are used to seeing Investigative Reporter Chris Nagus track down scammers and government waste on News 4 but at home he is trying to keep track of triplet boys just over a year old.
Recently Chris and his wife Katie found themselves searching for a babysitter.
“It obviously takes a lot of research and you just have to be very careful about who you are bringing into your home you are leaving them in your home all day with your children” said Chris.
They are trying to find someone on their own without having to go through a search agency.
Chris tells us “some of the things I do at work, I’m always researching people’s backgrounds and so I take some of those same tools to look for a babysitter.”
He has spent years looking into people’s backgrounds as an investigative reporter but anyone can use some of the tools he has to research a babysitter’s background. First he said check out a person’s records in the court system. “The first thing I use is Missouri Case Net, I take that person’s name and run it through that public database, it’s the quickest way to check for a criminal record in the state of Missouri, it’s something anyone can use it takes a couple minutes and that’s where I start.”
Second, Chris says you should also make sure and call all of the person’s references. It sounds obvious, but don’t take it for granted that they will have something positive to say. “When it’s just you and that person talking they might give you some insight and perspective, its knowledge, its powerful so I make sure and call every reference that’s provided to me when we are thinking about hiring a babysitter” said Chris. He also says never take anything on their resume for granted. “Did they in fact graduate from that university like they said they did and if they did not that’s a lie and maybe you don’t want to go with that person and I have run into that.”
Some parents may not want to go through the hassle of investigating babysitters so you should consider getting outside help from an agency. We talked to one of those agencies, TLC for Kids. Kimberly Patterson from TLC told News 4 “a lot of families come to us after trying it on their own because it seems like it would be easy, you can go onto other websites and post on social media sites asking your friends if they know someone and you can get a lot of names that way. You can meet some really nice people that way but the problem is you get a false sense of security. They have not been screened, they have not had their backgrounds investigated they have not been interviewed.”
Patterson told us for a $200 up-front fee and a placement fee of 10% of the expected salary of the nanny after they are hired – they will find a babysitter who fits in with your family. After an initial application process, Patterson tells News 4 that is when the deep investigating comes in we get criminal background checks for them from every county that they have resided in. The reason we do county is it is just more thorough than a statewide, because they cover not only felonies but misdemeanors. Because let’s face it, most people who have been arrested for things have not been arrested for murder or arson, they have been arrested for reckless endangerment, shoplifting, public drunkenness. These are things that really lead to character; do you really want these people in your home taking care of children? A lot of families that do this on their own don’t know how to do these background checks if they do they don’t know how to read between the lines with them.”
Parents might also choose to use an agency so that they do not have to deal with asking somewhat awkward questions. For instance Patterson told us, “You might want to have a nanny that is comfortable with your religious background, if I were interviewing for a job at an office somewhere they could never ask me that. It would not have anything to do with the job that I was performing but when you are working as a nanny you are in a sense becoming a part of that family, you are becoming an extension of the parents and you do not have to agree but you have to be comfortable with it. We have families that are strict vegetarians; we need nannies who know how to prepare those meals. We have families that are blended families; you have to make sure the nanny is ok with that. And a lot of our nannies come from similar backgrounds and it is reassuring to the families that they have a nanny who has been through what the kids are going through.”
Lastly both the agencies and Chris Nagus say check out social media sites
Chris says “ there is a lot of information, just Google that person’s name plug it into a Face book account check it out there, how do they interact on Face book check it out there.” Patterson of TLC for Kids also said “sometimes people will not really think about what they are putting out there for the public to see. We have weeded out a lot of candidates because of the highly inappropriate things they have written (on Face book.)”
Lastly Chris added “go with your gut if the person comes into your home and there is just something about that person you don’t like you don’t have to hire them”. Katie Nagus also told us that “it makes all the difference in the world to get a personal referral from someone you know and trust so we have looked at websites where you can find somebody but we have put the most value and stock in an actual personal referral from someone we know.”