When conducting a background screen on a childcare provider there are multiple elements to the research as well as in the assessment of the final report once it is complete.
~Deciding who should do the research~
When initiating the screening effort, it’s important to consider if you want to use a licensed screening professional or conduct research efforts on your own. If you are considering using a professional screener I highly recommend looking at a business that is licensed and insured. Find out first where they pull their data from and how deep they go with the records. What other areas outside of records do they research? Also, are they verifying this information with the sources they use and are they following guidelines from the Fair Credit Reporting Act? These include but are not limited to confirming you have permissible purpose for this report and written consent from your applicant. Before working with a professional screener I recommend asking what the final work product will be, confirmation on the depth of the investigation and the turn-around time. You deserve to know what you are paying for.
~The Fair Credit Reporting Act – Following the rules~
Obtaining written permission from your childcare candidate is essential and allows you to comply with one of the many Fair Credit Reporting Act guidelines. The Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681 (“FCRA”) is U.S. Federal Government legislation enacted to promote the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of consumer information contained in the files of consumer reporting agencies. It was intended to protect consumers from the willful and/or negligent inclusion of inaccurate information in their credit reports. To that end, the FCRA regulates the collection, dissemination, and use of consumer information, including consumer credit information. The FCRA falls under the umbrella of the Federal Trade Commission, (FTC). It is important to note that a childcare background screen, and your usage of this report, fall within the compliancy guidelines of the FCRA as this is considered an investigative consumer report even if the background research is not looking at credit history and other financial details. In an article from April of 2014, the FTC states that the law defines a “consumer report” as a “communication of any information” by a consumer reporting agency (CRA) that bears on a person’s “credit worthiness, credit standing, credit capacity, character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living” which is used (or expected to be used) as a factor in establishing their eligibility for credit, insurance, employment, or other reasons outlined in the law. https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/businesscenter/guidance/using-consumer-reports-what-employers-need-know
~Mechanics of the Research~
In my screening role, I look at court record and public record information on a weekly basis combined with credential verifications, reference interview results and internet presence on the candidates I screen. I also like to check vehicle recall details should the childcare provider be relied upon to transport children as part of their job duties. This is detail that my family clients can use as a measureable guide when assessing their childcare applicant. In the end, the family owns the hiring decision and my report is supplied as a tool to help them analyze and supplement the interview process they have done thus far.
The components of a strong background screen should include different angles in research and the utilization of different research sources and tools. Why? The reason is that there is no ‘one-stop-shop’ for background research. Court and public records can provide dates, type of event, law enforcement comments if tickets were issued and final disposition of a case that may involve a potential childcare provider. They can also shed light on character and judgment depending on the type of cases that are found. It’s important to note that in some instances an event may have taken place with law enforcement or a government agency that did not result in a court case record, arrest or conviction. The screener’s job will be to look for any records that may exist. That said, record retrieval is only one part of a professional and thorough background screen. The other side of the screening process should focus on the softer data. This is data found when speaking with professional references, former employers, verifying education and even looking at social media presence. For this reason, it’s important to have a collection of resources to cross reference.
~Reading Between the Lines~
Assessing the background screening report to form your own hiring decision is critical. Does the information make sense, do any court records exist that form a pattern of behavior or shed light on character? Was confirmation received on the candidate’s listed credentials or from information they told you during the interview? If the answer is no or questionable on these areas I recommend speaking with the childcare candidate on the areas that are reasonably tied to the job description for which you are considering them. Clarification is key. For some families it may mean to simply reconsider if this candidate’s history and credentials are the best fit for their family. In other scenarios a conversation based on the report details may lend context to a record that has been found, or detail from a reference that may otherwise appear negative in nature. I also look closely at the caliber of a professional reference. Was this person affiliated with the childcare candidate in a professional and accountable capacity? Some of my favorite questions to ask during a reference interview are, “Is he/she eligible for rehire?” and “Which skill or expertise would this person benefit most from?” These of course are in addition to clarifying how the reference knows the childcare candidate, what their working relationship was and the duties performed by the childcare care candidate. While my experience leans towards the framework of using a professional screener to conduct this type of research, these same principles would apply in many areas to research activity a family may do on their own.
How should one use the background screening report as a realistic tool in the hiring process? Ultimately the family is in charge of the hiring decision and assessment of the research details. The background screening report is a tool that can be used to assess qualifications. A professional screener should not provide hiring recommendations, rather that individual should provide a variety of information to be used to supplement the family’s hiring process before an offer is made and employment begins. I share details with my clients on the variety of places that I have conducted research from, the date I located this information and a summary on any records found which may include a copy of the record or comments from the court. Additionally, in looking at the resume and reference detail it is important to look at the comments from the references, timeline and substance on employment history and information consistency overall. Were credentials confirmed and do they match the information you were given from your childcare candidate? For example, if your childcare provider told you they graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in early childhood development, did your screener receive verification of this detail and the date completed by the educational institution? One of my favorite areas to clarify is the topic of Infant/Child CPR and First Aid certification. This is a common training area that the candidates I screen have either completed, say they completed or need to take certified training on via a local vendor that is approved by the American Heart Association. They are not certified if the course was done online. If certified hands-on training was completed it needs to be renewed every two years to remain a current credential.
As a family reviews the background screening report I suggest looking for patterns of behavior that may show up on court records, inconsistencies with employment and training and the quality of the references the family was given as part of the interview process. Lastly, does the bigger picture fit together logically? What does your gut tell you after reading the report and assessing the information? If questions exist, ask for clarification. Clarification should be an open dialog between the screener and the family if needed and with the childcare provider and family if something seems amiss based on your initial interview.
The research and assessment of childcare providers does take time. It requires a careful eye, attention to detail and focus on the final report. Conduct research carefully, ethically and with a detailed eye. Assess the results logically and pay attention to your gut. The family owns the hiring decision. It is my opinion that this time spent is an investment in a successful hiring process for each family I partner with in the greater Seattle area.
For further information or if questions arise please feel free to contact Reveal Information Group, LLC at email@example.com