Thanks to a law in New York state, you can.
Kieran’s Law took effect on October 27, 1998, to allow parents and guardians of children to access New York State criminal history information regarding potential in-house caregivers being considered for employment. Kieran’s Law applies only to caregivers (e.g., nannies, babysitters) who will be providing childcare in the child’s home for 15 hours or more per week.
The law allows parents, with the voluntary consent of the prospective caregiver, to forward the prospective employee’s fingerprints to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS). DCJS will conduct a search of its records so that a criminal background search can be conducted. Once the background check is completed, the parents will be notified of any criminal convictions in New York State so that they can make an informed decision regarding the fitness and competency of their child’s caretaker. A $75 fee, payable by the parents, will be charged for each background check conducted by DCJS. This fee may be reduced based on the prospective employer’s financial situation and ability to pay. More information here.
- Tell your potential nanny that you want to run a background check on them. If they react to this decision and backs away, this is a red flag to be wary of.
- Run background checks on all the names your nanny has had, including (but not limited to) your Nanny's maiden AND married name.
- A background check is not sufficient on its own and for many nannies in NYC, complete background checks cannot be done. Be sure to check all your nanny's references carefully and speak to references in person (see Park Slope Parent's advice on interviewing references here).
Who can help me with a background check?
1) The State of New York Office of Child and Family Services
2) New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
The New York DMV offer what they call a "masked abstract." A "masked abstract" provides you with any prior license or driving convictions, accidents, suspensions, or revocations. However, to get a "masked abstract" you must get permissible use prior to obtaining. To find out more information (and also to find out what you can and cannot obtain in a "masked abstract" visit the New York DMV online.
If you visit a DMV office, your request for the prospective employee’s driving record can be processed on the same day.
PSP member experience: "I ended up running a background check through the DMV. There is a type of check called abstract history that pulls any auto violations as well as arrests etc. It's not as comprehensive as a history check done through the state but it's cheap and easy. You just need to have a notarized signed form by the nanny agreeing to it."
3) Sex Offender Registry
4) The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services
If you are seeking a criminal background check on a potential caregiver for your child, you can request a Caregiver Criminal History Record Search Request Form (DCJS-3249) and fingerprint card by writing to: New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services Criminal History Record Search Unit 4 Tower Place Albany, NY 12203-3702 Or by calling: (518) 485-7675 or (518) 457-9847
Note that criminal history information obtained from DCJS pursuant to Kieran’s Law is confidential. Unauthorized disclosure or redisclosure of the information is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison.
Parents who obtain criminal history information from DCJS and employ ten or more persons in any capacity should be aware that Section 752 of the Correction Law may limit an individual’s authority to refuse to hire someone based upon a criminal conviction to those instances in which there is a direct relationship between the criminal conviction and the prospective employment.
5) New York Courts
You need to have the individual’s full Name and DOB. You can submit your search via OCA’s on-line application called Direct Access or you can complete the CHRS application form which can be downloaded from the NYS Courts website. Submit the application with a check or money order made out to the NYS Office of Court Administration. The search mechanism is based on finding an EXACT match of the actual name and date of birth of the individual searched. The individual's middle initial is not used as part of the search mechanism. Any variation of either the Name or DOB in the database is not considered a match and is not reported. Searches can also be requested for business entities.
5) Private Organizations
You can also pay a small fee to an organization who can run background checks for you:
- Homework solutions: http://www.homeworksolutions.com/what-we-do/background-check/
- 4 Nannies: http://www.4nannies.com/
- Nanny Pro: http://www.nannypro.com/
- My Nanny Track: http://www.mynannytrack.com
- eNannySource: https://enannysource.com/nanny-background-check.aspx
- " I used enannysource. The report was done in less than 2 business days (even though they estimated 5 days) and it was very thorough... Gave me the nanny's address, and checked arrest records, court documents, etc. I felt confident proceeding with my nanny after using this service. I think it ended up costing a little bit over $100 total (because you have to pay an extra fee for New York) but it was well worth it! I had heard some horror stories about people not doing backrgound checks so for me, it was a must."
Ultimately, if everything still checks out in black and white, and your gut is still hesitant - follow your instinct. While starting the search process all over again may seem like a hassle, you could end up saving yourself big time in the future.
Kieran’s Law, it can help you make an informed decision: http://ocfs.ny.gov/main/publications/Pub4628text.asp
Kieran's Law PDF fact sheet: http://ocfs.ny.gov/main/publications/Pub4628.pdf
History of Kieran's Law: http://www.nytimes.com/1998/08/09/nyregion/checks-of-nannies-allowed.html?_r=0
Last updated October 2016
Disclaimer: This post has been written for educational purposes only by Park Slope Parents and is not meant to be legal advice and should not be construed as legal advice or be relied upon. The post may contain errors, inaccuracies and/or omissions. We recommend checking with a professional for specific advice.