5 things to do before letting someone watch your children

By Amy Davis - Reporter/Consumer Expert

HOUSTON - Consumer expert Amy Davis showed you how a lack of oversight into the nanny and babysitter industry can put our children at risk. It's up to parents to make sure their children are protected.

Here are five things you should do before you hire anyone to watch your kids. 

1) Ask friends and relatives for recommendations

Finding a caregiver who has worked with the children of people you already know and trust is key. You can ask them questions about the nanny or babysitter before you ever meet them. Do they play with the kids? Are they strict? Do they make the kids pick   up after themselves? 

2) Do your own background check

No matter where you find your potential new sitter, you should start by assuming no one has done a background check on them, even if a private agency or referral service claims they have. 

You can pay per search with private background check websites online. When you interview the candidate, ask for a copy of their driver's license. Let them know you will be running a background check; and ask them if you will find anything when you do. This can save you the money of actually doing a check if the candidate tells you about a conviction that makes you uncomfortable. During the interview, find out everywhere the candidate has lived. Where were they born? What schools did they go to growing up? Does their family live in the same city? You can use this information to decide how wide of a background check you want to do. If the person was born in Houston and never lived anywhere else, a Texas criminal background check will probably suffice. This will pick up convictions and arrests in Harris and surrounding counties too. 

3) Google the candidate's name

You never know what you'll find. 

4) Look through their social media pages 

Do their posts concern you? What about their friends and acquittances? Do their posts and pictures show the lifestyle they claim they have when you interviewed them?

5) Install multiple cameras in your home 

Tell babysitters and nannies that you have cameras in your home that you monitor; but don't tell them everywhere they are. It is fine if they see some of the cameras, but as long as they know they are being recorded, they don't need to know which areas of the house you can and can not see.

Some families also daw up a caregiver agreement or contract. This can be a good idea just to make sure that you have made your expectations very clear. Some examples of things in the contract can include : no smoking in our home, no visitors or guests we did not approve in advance, no talking or playing on a cellphone or computer while the children are awake.

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