Care.com, a website devoted to helping parents find babysitters and nannies for their children, has come under fire for inadequate background check policies numerous times over the years. Now, with the publication of a damning Boston Globe story, the site is (rightfully) facing criticism once more.
The Boston Globe piece revolves around a Boston woman who was able to register as a nanny through Care.com, despite being on probation and having a lengthy rap sheet. According to the article, the woman had been "convicted for dozens of larceny and fraud charges in the Greater Boston area" and had actually done jail time. Any local or state background check would have illuminated the woman's crimes and probably disqualified her from serving as a child caretaker. However, Care.com allowed her to register.
A Boston couple ultimately hired the woman as their nanny in February 2013. It took until summer 2014 for the couple to realize that money was disappearing from their checking accounts—$285,000 to be exact. Then, they figured out that their nanny was a notorious thief with a substantial criminal history. According to the Globe piece, the woman pleaded guilty to "federal bank fraud charges" in November of this year.
For this particular Boston couple, it seems that the Care.com narrative has come to an end. For everyone else, though, there is a bigger conversation to be had here about whether or not Care.com is doing its due diligence in properly screening potential nannies and caregivers. Care.com offers three levels of background checks, each tier costing more than the last. There's the $9 preliminary option, the $59 or $79 "preferred checks," and a $300 "premier" check.
The Boston couple featured in the Globe piece allegedly paid for the $79 preferred option. That background check, according to the Care.com website, includes SSN verification, national criminal database searches, national sex offender registry searches, state and county criminal record checks, federal courthouse record checks, and motor vehicle record checks. In addition to searching the state and county records where the applicant resides currently, the $79 preferred background check is supposed to include an address history search that checks records in all states or counties where the candidate has lived in the past seven years.
The obvious question here is whether Care.com is running the right background checks in the first place. The Boston case, while bizarre, is not isolated. Across the nation, families that have used Care.com have lodged similar complaints. Some have been the victims of theft. Others lost their children due to abusive or negligent nannies hired through the service. In many such cases, the nannies had criminal records that Care.com failed to catch.