Opinion & Debate

Published on October 11th, 2013 | by Kelly Rose Bradford


Background checks for au pairs – why single parents should always get a second opinion on childcare

A survey has found that 43 per cent of parents would like to run ‘background checks’ on the people they hire to care for their children.

Web-based directory service 192.com undertook the research ahead of launching their own checking service to help protect the public from deception and fraud. The poll revealed that 50% of respondents lied about some aspect of their personal profile, with 38% having concealed their identity (1 in 5 doing so online), 18% having lied about their age, and 8% inventing their qualifications.

The findings led the company to highlight parents’ need to look further into a potential nanny or au pairs’ background other than just their CV.

In the UK, nannies don’t have to be registered, but they can choose to lodge their details (at a cost) on an Ofsted register. VOICE, the union of childcare professionals, say there are over 100,000 nannies in the UK who have NOT registered .

For single parents, choosing childcare or recruiting and interviewing a childminder or babysitter can often be a stressful exercise, especially if  the decision is made in a hurry, with no one to confer with over the potential candidates.  Jill Rutter, head of policy and research at the Family and Childcare Trust, advises lone mums and dads to always get a second opinion before taking on a carer for their child, as well as getting at least two references and a Disclosure Barring Service check.

She told Parenting Solo:  “Single parents who are choosing a nanny often have to make a judgement on their own about who to employ, and we would suggest people get a second opinion from a friend or family member to help them make this important decision.”

Nanny agency boss Amanda Coxen from Tinies Childcare agreed and said parents should ‘never underestimate’ the importance of carrying out ‘vigorous checks’ on a potential childminder.

“An up to date enhanced DBS check is an absolute must,” she said, adding that although her agency does face to face interviews, ‘not all do’.

Dominic Blackburn from 192.com said their new service will enable parents to make more informed decisions before employing a nanny or childminder. He said: “We strongly advocate hiring childminders through official channels, but in a largely unregulated market, Background Reports can provide an additional tool for parents, giving them a clearer picture of the person they are bringing into their home.”

Do you worry when you have to make childcare decisions on your own? Let us know your experiences. 


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About the Author

Kelly Rose Bradford

is a London-based journalist and broadcaster, writing for the Daily Mail, the Daily Express, the Sunday Telegraph, and a host of women's magazines. Her robust opinions and feisty debating skills make her in demand as a social commentator, regularly guesting on ITV's This Morning programme, and across many radio stations, including 5 Live and BBC Radio London.

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