Background Checks Used by Two Popular Caregiver Websites Approved Babysitters with Arrest Records

Two popular caregiver screening websites that help people find babysitters and elder care helpers using background checks performed by national background screening firms approved several applicants with arrest records, according to a report by NBC Chicago’s Unit 5 Investigative Team. The report, which checked the reliability of the information these babysitter screening websites provided, is available at

The Unit 5 Investigative Team posted ads seeking babysitters on two popular online caregiver websites – Sittercity based in Chicago, Illinois and based in Massachusetts – where prospective employers can sign up and view profiles of potential applicants for babysitter and elder care help positions. Unit 5 found four “applicants” – “Caroline,” “Dominic,” “Jack,” and “Linda” – who agreed to create profiles on both sites, apply for positions posted by Unit 5, and undergo “an entire battery” of background checks. Unit 5 reported the following background check results, which included a basic criminal record check, a broad search of records, and a driver’s record check for traffic violations:

  • “Caroline” passed her Sittercity criminal background check “with flying colors” even though she had “at least three speeding tickets in three different states” including Illinois. Unit 5 said her record was accessed on the computer database of Cook County Circuit Court’s traffic records.
  • “Dominic” was also cleared by both Sittercity and though the computer database of Cook County Criminal Court showed he had “four separate arrests” on his record involving property damage, marijuana possession, and domestic battery, as well as speeding tickets. Unit 5 reported the fact that he was never convicted of a crime, only charged, may be why that information was missing in the background checks.
  • “Jack” was flagged by Sittercity for a speeding conviction but not for any criminal record though the database for the criminal court in the county where he resides shows he was arrested and charged with felony assault and resisting a police officer and convicted of reckless conduct. He also had several speeding tickets. Unit 5 noted that did find Jack’s criminal record and speeding tickets and sent him a letter notifying him that his profile was suspended.
  • “Linda” was completely cleared by both companies although a “quick search of her county’s criminal files” revealed she had been convicted of several counts of prostitution.

While representatives from both Sittercity and declined interview requests, both companies issued statements in response to the investigation. The Sittercity statement said if a background check finds a criminal record, “the caregiver is immediately terminated and removed from the network.” The statement noted: “The unfortunate reality is that currently, there is no centralized database encompassing all criminal convictions, charges, arrests and violations.” According to the Unit 5 report, a statement from the background screening company that conducts background checks for Sittercity said they do not discuss the terms of contracts with their customers “as a matter of company policy.”

According to safe hiring expert Attorney Lester Rosen, founder and CEO of background check firm Employment Screening Resources (ESR), it is important for consumers to understand the actual search protocol being used. “Generally speaking, the use of database searches is questionable if used as a primary background checking tool, although they are extremely valuable as a secondary tool to cover a wider area and to point to possible places to look for criminal records,” explains Rosen, author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual.’ “However, to run a background check for a very sensitive position, it is imperative to augment database searches with additional searches, such as a motor vehicle checks, as well as county court searches for those places associated with the candidate.”

To learn more about background checks, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority’ and nationwide background screening firm accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) – at, call Toll Free 888.999.4474, or email For more information about the new updated second edition of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by ESR Founder and CEO Lester Rosen, visit

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