Private Eyes Branch Out Into Nanny Screening

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Are you a parent who thinks nanny cams are a no-brainer? Do you wish there was some way to know for absolute certain that your future child caregiver has a scandal-free past? So did Leah Clarkson and Casey Drucker when they had their first children in 2008. But unlike most anxious new parents, they had the résumés to do something about it.

As private eyes in the Manhattan-based "investigative due diligence" firm Back Track Reports, the two specialize in background checks on hedge fund and portfolio managers, digging for unsavory behavior that could imperil a client’s portfolio. Now, they are betting that other parents are willing to pay as much to protect their kids as they are to protect their nest eggs. Last week, they launched Nanny Track, a service that promises to employ the same exhaustive methods used to root out white-collar crime to ascertain whether or not a caregiver is a trustworthy steward of “your most precious investment.”

For $555, the process begins with a sweep of all public records, such as court documents, a check of the National Sex Offender registry, credit history, bankruptcies, and driving records, among others. They also verify dates of past employment and, if asked, conduct interviews with references. The gathered information is then delivered in a report which, Drucker says, merely offers objective facts, rather than recommendations for or against hiring.

She says the process proved crucial in her own nanny search when, after she and her husband interviewed a woman they found warm and likable, they discovered through a search of public records that she had a bankruptcy and eviction in her past. “That said to me that she had some issues with personal responsibility,” says Drucker.

She admits that there are differences between investigating high-net-worth individuals and people who might care for your children. “You won’t get as many Google news hits on nannies, for example.” Also, she concedes, there are already online background-check services that charge a mere $99. “Our feeling is that you get what you pay for,” she says.

But as any parent knows, no amount of money or sleuthing is going to nullify the anxiety and ambivalence many feel about outsourcing their parenting. And no matter how clean the background check, there’s no assurance of a rapport between child and nanny, or employer and employee. Ultimately, your money may be better spent hiring a P.I. to follow your nanny after she’s hired, when — no matter how squeaky-clean her file — she may or may not actually pay attention to what your kids are doing when she takes them to the playground.