Checking Background Checks

What's in a Background Check?

This is something all of us should consider before assuming a background check is a stamp of approval that someone is "A-OK" for employment as a Caregiver.

Does the background check include a Social Security number match to the person?  Does the criminal history include more than one county?  Beware of any service that offers an "instant" check.  There are still counties that may not have instant updates to their information and good background check companies know this and take the necessary time to fact check (I always imagine Barney Fife from "The Andy Griffith Show" - it might take him a couple days to walk the arrest info over to the courthouse).

Keep in mind, too, that there are people who may have been arrested for shoplifting or theft who had the charges dropped in exchange for community service and the arrest will not show up on the information presented to an employer in a background check.

This is why even though a background check is nice, it is just as important to check other information, such as a regular employment history and both personal and professional references.

Background checks are regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which allows convictions to be reviewed for the last 7 years.  However, some states have passed laws which do allow for reviews beyond 7 years if the individual will be working with children or seniors.

Caregiverlist provides you with background check laws by state.

The unfortunate reality is that people who are looking to take advantage of someone often look to work privately for a senior as they are betting that a thorough multi-state background check will not be done.  Some of these individuals are wonderful actors and can really make you believe their stories.  Senior Home Care Agencies offer an added layer of protection through their insurance coverage and active management of the Caregivers.


Comments (5) -

  • Maria K.

    6/9/2008 10:56:01 AM | Reply

    It is also important to ask the candidate for their current, and past, addresses going back 7-10 years.  This is another mechanism to confirm the addresses that appear on the background checks are in fact their own.  Background checks are run by zip code for every address associated with the candidate (background checks do not perform a nationwide check).  But, if they were living with a friend or relative in a different state (and never changed their mailing address) and were convicted for a felony in that state, it may not appear on the background check.  It is very important to check the addresses they provide against the background check and confirm that the background check was completed for every zip code the candidate resided in during the designated time period.  If there are any gaps-beware!  Good luck!

  • shannon b.

    6/11/2008 8:21:19 PM | Reply

    I was wondering if agencies also run your credit history. I always hear that bad credit can possibly keep one from getting a job, housing, etc. My friend is a nanny and she went through an agency and they ran her credit in addition to her background.

  • Julie

    6/13/2008 3:14:14 PM | Reply

    Shannon: Most Senior Home Care Agencies' Background Checks just include a criminal history check and a name match to a Social Security number via an address check.  I owned an agency for 7 years and we never did a credit check.

  • Donna

    6/13/2008 4:10:20 PM | Reply

    I can not speak for all agencies, however I can address what we have in place.

    All employees of Home & Hearth Caregivers must sign an agreement stating that they will adhere to our policies and procedures. We only hire experienced Caregivers. We conduct criminal background checks, drug screenings and we conduct thorough reference checks from former employers. Credit checks can be conducted on a case by case basis. Any and all findings pertaining to one’s credit will not be distributed to a potential client. We take great pride in placing compassionate, patient, experienced and trustworthy Caregivers in a loved one’s home. Frequent in-home visits are conducted to insure the safety and well being of our clients. I hope that helps.

  • Brandi

    6/28/2008 5:04:37 PM | Reply

    I think it is also important to check out the persons refernces to try to really get a feel for the people you hire so you get the right kind of care for each person.


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