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 http://www.nbcchicago.com/investigations/unit-5-babysitter-background-checks-179041071.html. The Unit 5 Investigative Team posted ads seeking babysitters on two popular online caregiver websites – Sittercity based in Chicago, Illinois and Care.com 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 Care.com 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 Care.com 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.