SAVE THE DATE: OCTOBER 23-25 | APNA Annual Conference
SAVE THE DATE: OCTOBER 23-25 | APNA Annual Conference

Required Background Checks

At minimum, all APNA agencies must conduct the following background checks on every nanny candidate placed:
  • Social Security Number verification for identity authentication and to obtain former names and addresses.
  • Statewide and/or county felony and misdemeanor checks in the location where the candidate currently lives.
  • National Sex Offender Registry search.
  • Driving record.

In addition to the required basic background components listed above, APNA’s recommended practice is to conduct the following additional checks:

  • Felony and misdemeanor checks in every jurisdiction where the candidate has worked and lived during the past seven years.
  • Every name used by the candidate during the past seven years is checked for criminal records.
  • Conducting annual updates to existing background checks on temporary nannies or babysitters.
  • Protecting candidates from identity theft  by utilizing background screening companies that do not engage in the offshoring of candidates’ SSNs, dates of birth, or driver’s license numbers for the processing of background checks.

APNA agencies adhere to the following policies:

  • A new, or updated background check, is done on every candidate prior to a long-term placement.
  • Conducting annual or semi-annual updates to existing background checks on temporary nannies or babysitters.
  • Compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and all other applicable local, state and federal laws.
  • Protecting candidates from identity theft  by utilizing background screening companies that do not engage in the offshoring of candidates’ SSNs, dates of birth, or driver’s license numbers for the processing of background checks.
  • Providing all clients with the opportunity to decline or purchase additional background checks, beyond those standard checks offered by the agency.  The additional checks might include criminal checks in other locations, civil litigation, bankruptcies, liens, judgments, wants & warrants, national or multi-state criminal database searches, or federal court searches.
  • APNA agencies do not regard the National Criminal Check (also known as the Multi-State Criminal Check) as a substitute for the REQUIRED criminal checks conducted at the county or state level.

Links to More Detailed Information

The Social Security Number Verification is a key component of the background check.  The data is compiled from credit bureaus and public records databases.  The SSN verification helps agencies to determine whether or not candidates actually are who they say they are.  This check also provides fact-based data that enable agencies to double check the information applicants have provided about themselves.  This information is vital to the prevention of potential fraud. The SSN Verification provides the following information:

  • Whether or not the SSN was validly issued by the Social Security Administration and when and where it was issued.  Note:  the Social Security Administration changed its numbering system, effective June 25, 2011.  Consequently, SSN’s issued after that date cannot be validated.
  • Other names that the individual has used.
  • Address history.
  • Dates of birth are often reported.
  • Whether or not the SSN being used belongs to a deceased person, or was issued before the candidate was born.

Felony and misdemeanor checks are available statewide in some locations, and on a county-by-county basis in other locations. 

Criminal Records – County

County court records are available at each of the 3,077 counties in the United States. This is the primary method by which criminal records are checked in the U.S.  Less than thirty-five percent of criminal court records are available online.  Therefore, these checks usually involve physically dispatching a court records researcher to manually check the courthouse records.  Normally, the results are available in two to three working days.

County criminal checks are conducted by name, and date of birth information is used to determine relevance.  Both felony and misdemeanor records are included.  If the candidate has had more than one name, it is essential that all names are searched for criminal records.

Criminal Records – Statewide

There are three sources for statewide criminal record checks:  state criminal repositories maintained by state law enforcement agencies; statewide criminal court indexes available through the state administrative office of the courts; and proprietary databases.  The records are checked by name and date of birth.  The best possible criminal search includes a check of the statewide index, as well as county checks in the locations where the applicant has lived during the past seven years.  Usually the results are available within two days.  If the candidate has had more than one name, it is essential that all names are searched for criminal records.

Statewide felony and misdemeanor checks are available in the following states:

Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin

The National Sex Offender Registry

The National Sex Offender Registry is maintained by the US Department of Justice.  The data are reported to the Department of Justice by the states.  Each state has its own rules regarding what information it will or will not release.  Some states do not provide full dates of birth, or limit the available information to only the most serious sex offenders.

Driving Records

Driving records are available from all states, with the exception of Alaska, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania.

The Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

FCRA is a federal law that applies whenever an employer requests a background check from a screening company.  A credit report does not have to be a component of the background check in order for FCRA to apply.  Under FCRA, background checks are called “Consumer Reports” and background screening firms are referred to as “Consumer Reporting Agencies.” The two primary responsibilities required of employers and the agencies that represent them under FCRA are:

  • Obtaining a signed consent form from the employment applicant, and providing the employment applicant with a written disclosure that a background check may be requested.  The forms that must be signed include the Authorization for Release of Information Form and the Disclosure Form.
  • If the background check (Consumer Report) includes derogatory information that causes the employer not to hire an applicant, the following steps must be taken:
    1. a)    The applicant must be given a copy of the background check (Consumer Report), along with a Pre-Adverse Action Notice and a Summary of Your Rights document.
    2. b)    If after a reasonable period of time the employer makes a final decision not to hire the applicant, the employer should send the applicant an Adverse Action Letter (and another copy of the Summary of Your Rights document.  The applicant has the right to dispute the accuracy of the information included in the background check.  If they do so, the background screening company has a duty to reinvestigate within 30 days.

The Notice to Users of Consumer Reports defines the responsibilities of employers under FCRA in much greater detail: . The complete text of the Fair Credit Reporting Act is available at State Laws There are also state laws that apply when conducting background checks on employees and employment applicants. These state laws may impose greater restrictions than FCRA.  The California Investigative Reporting Agencies Act is the most restrictive state law pertaining to background checks in the U.S., and it places limitations on both the types of records that can be included in a background check, as well as how far back the records can be checked.  In California, as in several states, background checks are limited to seven years:  Due to the differences in the state laws, the background screening industry has adopted the 7-year criminal check as the industry standard. Protecting candidates from identity theft is a priority for APNA agencies.  APNA agencies share a concern that once data leaves the U.S., the data is beyond the reach of U.S. privacy laws and there are no meaningful privacy protections.  This places candidates at great risk for identity theft.  Therefore, APNA agencies do not utilize background screening companies that send Personally Identifiable Information (PII) outside of the U.S. for processing. (PII data include Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and drivers’ license numbers.) Additional Background Checks are offered to APNA clients, in the event that the clients wish to purchase additional checks. The additional checks may include the following:

Civil Litigation

This type of background check provides information regarding civil litigation involving the applicant as either a defendant or a plaintiff in a lawsuit. Civil court records do not involve incarceration or probation, instead money or property rights are involved.  The lower courts, such as small claims, are not usually searched. Three types of cases are of particular concern:

  • Litigation involving former employers, such as sexual harassment suits.
  • Temporary restraining orders.
  • Conservatorships, when the candidate is a caregiver for the elderly.

Civil litigation records are searched by name only, and most civil cases do not include identifying information such as date of birth, Social Security number or address.  Consequently, it may be difficult to determine relevance if the applicant has a common name.  These checks go back seven years.

Additional Jurisdictions for Criminal Checks

Additional jurisdictions for criminal checks may include nearby counties or states.


Bankruptcy records are checked on a nationwide basis by Social Security number.  This is a seven to ten year search.

Tax Liens and Judgments

This check includes a search for judgments and federal and state tax liens.  In some states the records can be searched on a statewide basis.  However, there are some states in which the information can only be searched at the county level.  These searches go back seven years.

National Wants & Warrants

This check provides a nationwide search for any open, extraditable warrants pertaining to the subject.  This search only provides information regarding open felony warrants.

National or Multi-State Criminal Database Searches

The National Criminal File provides information from multiple criminal record sources.  The primary sources included are: multi-state sex and violent offender records; incarceration, parole, and release records from prisons; and some state and local county criminal records. While this check provides access to millions of criminal records, it is not a nationwide search and this search is NOT a viable substitute for the criminal checks that are conducted at the state and county level, as there are numerous gaps in this database search and much of the information is not up-to-date. These records are checked by name only or by name and date of birth.

Federal Criminal Court Searches

US District Courts hear cases involving offenses such as kidnapping, drug trafficking, tax evasion, counterfeiting, arson, assault, or bank robbery.  These checks go back seven years and are conducted on a nationwide or statewide basis.  The records are checked by name only.  If records are found that match an applicant’s name, additional research is conducted to attempt to determine relevance.