How to Find a Babysitter You Can Trust
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, both members of more than half of all American couples now work outside the home. At the same time, the news seems filled with instances of child abuse and exploitation. For those couples with children, the task of choosing a reliable and safe child care provider can be a daunting one.
Fortunately, in addition to getting a prospective sitter’s references and observing his or her interaction with your child, Internet access and a valid credit card allow you to quickly and inexpensively perform both a criminal record check and a sex offender search on any potential caregiver.
Criminal record check
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) maintains a Criminal History Information webpage. For $24.95, it will return Florida arrest records for up to five potential matches for any name. Inputting additional identifying information, such as date of birth, Social Security Number or race will reduce the likelihood of false “hits”. The fee includes the record of any one subject whose name is returned; additional records are available for an additional fee if multiple names are returned
Conducting a warrant search
Parents will also want to check the FDLE’s Public Access Service, which contains information on outstanding arrest warrants as reported to the Department by law enforcement agencies throughout the state. There is no fee to access this service.
Sex offenders and predators registry
Parents will want to search the FDLE’s Sexual Offenders and Predators website for any records pertaining to a potential caregiver. This service is also available without charge.
Driver’s license record
If your sitter will be driving your child, a driver’s license record check can be obtained online at the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles website.
Social media pages
Don’t forget to look for Facebook and other social media pages related to your prospective sitter. The information posted there may reveal a great deal about his or her lifestyle and habits.
The Reagan era saying “trust but verify” applies here. Even if you’re satisfied that you’ve found a trustworthy and reliable sitter, don’t be afraid to make an occasional surprise midday visit home to see how things are going or to ask a trusted neighbor who is ordinarily home while you’re at work to keep an eye out for anything unusual or questionable occurring during your absence.