As summer is ending and the school year is beginning there is a need for after school sitters. As most parents would agree, the thought of leaving your child with just anyone is scary. On average most sitters are family friends or relatives, but what happens if none of those options are available?

The sad truth is that you should consider having some of your neighbors, family friends or even relatives checked before watching your children. According to 7 News, parents in the United States spend about $120 billion on childcare each year and many are turning to the internet for help. The problem with this is that very few child care sites provide background checks and if they do the site wants parents to pay extra in order to have the background check processed. Most parents would pay the extra, before letting a stranger in their house, but there are other ways to background check a sitter other than an online site.

The first thing you need to do before anything else is get their permission! If you have someone that you are considering, call or meet with them and get their permission to have a background check performed. Make sure that you receive their consent IN WRITING! Write up what you would like to have done, and make sure they sign it. A background check can not be legally performed without the consent of the person. If they don’t feel comfortable with a background check, that may be a sign that they aren’t the right choice. Once you have their permission you can try these next four steps.


  • Perform a background check: Find a local background check company or an online business that will perform the check. Prices will vary based on what company you use, and how thorough they are with the search. If you’re in Northern Illinois use a company like Background Check Express. You may need to find somewhere local depending on where the specific business has jurisdiction. It is better to pay a little more and make sure that you know everything you need know before they watch your children. 
  • Check their references: If they don’t have references listed ask for some. It is okay to call and ask people what their experience with the person was. Nothing is too extreme when it comes to the safety of your children. Other’s personal experience can be some of the best information to use when making your decision. Don’t just take one person’s opinion though. Make sure to call multiple references, because they could raise multiple concerns or the same concern. They also could give you reassurance that your child will be in good hands. 
  • No question is out of the question: While you’re still in the research phase ask to meet up with them, and let them know you’re going to ask questions to get to know them. This may seem weird, but this is where you use your natural instinct. Sadly, some people are good liars, but ask their references questions and then ask them the same question and see if the answers line up or if something seems off. 
  • Do a trial run: Kids are the best judges of character. When you have things to do at home have the candidate come over and do a trial run with you home. This may be hard, but if your kids click right away that is a good sign.

Although, some of these options are not the conventional way to perform a background check, they are able to get you the answers you need. The saying “better safe, than sorry” can not be more true than when it comes to your children.


By: Christa Vandenburgh