Background checks for in-home caregivers of an elderly loved-one require special attention because the loved-one is vulnerable, trusting, and may have assets which could be at risk.
Here are some questions and answers to consider when screening an in-home caregiver:
Question 1. What information do you need from a person being screened to become an in-home caregiver?
Answer: A thorough screening requires enough personal information about the Applicant to perform a full and timely investigation. This includes:
a. Applicant’s full name, nick names, maiden name, legal name changes, and aliases.
b. Date of birth
c. Physical description; including a photo
d. Social security number, Driver’s license number, military number, etc.
e. All addresses where the Applicant resided, worked, and attended school for the last 7 to 10 years.
f. Criminal history details; including arrests and convictions involving crimes against persons and/or property.
g. Signed Consent to Disclose Personal Information. This form allows the prospective employer (or their designee/investigator) to receive personal information from prior employers, criminal justice agencies, and others.
Question 2. What additional questions should you ask references a in-home caregiver job Applicant?
Answer: The goal is to learn as much about the Applicant’s temperament; including how they handle stressful situations and manage conflicts and crises. A reference’s answers to these questions are helpful:
a. How long have you known the Applicant?
b. Can you provide the name and phone number of another person (reference) who knows the Applicant?
c. How does the Applicant handle stressful situations? Any examples?
d. Describe a conflict or difficult incident between you and the Applicant and how the Applicant handled it?
e. Describe a situation where the Applicant had to deal with sensitive, personal or confidential matters?
Question 3. Which websites are legitimate for doing background checks?
Answer: All websites have strengths and weaknesses. No website should be relied on as the ultimate source of accurate, timely, personal history information. Additionally, the flaw with many online, background check services is they may not be licensed by a government agency.
Consequently, a licensed private detective is the best option for caregiver background checks.
The advantage of using a licensed private detective agency is that clients and customers can file a complaint with the detective licensing body. In Illinois, the licensing body is the Illinois Department of Finance and Professional Regulation (IDFPR).
IDFPR compels compliance from license holders through their power to investigate complaints, issue discipline, and suspend and revoke detective licenses. A typical online background check service is not subject to the same scrutiny and/or sanctions.
a. IDFPR.com - state of Illinois website with information about license holders, disciplinary information, license history, and more.
b. Public Access to Courts Electronic Records “pacer.login.uscourts.gov" - Access to federal civil, criminal and bankruptcy records in all 50 states. Cost is minimal.
c. blackbookonline.info - The website contains links to county, state and local court records in all 50 states. No cost. Use only as a guide.
d. Illinois State Police Bureau of Identification. ISP.Illinois.Gov - Contains information on how to obtain criminal history conviction information from all 102 Illinois counties.
e. Most U.S. police departments have websites with instructions for obtaining criminal history information, police reports, statistics, etc. Each police department is supposed to offer instructions of how to use the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to obtain publicly available criminal history information.
f. Every state, county and municipal agency is supposed to have instructions on their website for obtaining criminal history information.
Question 4. What are other options for doing a background check?
Answer: Hire a licensed private detective. Quality and detailed investigations take time. There is no single source for reliable, timely background information. Every significant background investigation requires examining multiple sources, cross-checking details, as well as assessing and summarizing the investigative work into a final product.
Additional thoughts and tips:
a. Conduct two pre-employment interviews with Applicants. During the first interview review the Applicant’s job application and ensure all application sections are completed. Have the Applicant complete and sign the Consent for Personal Information Disclosure (This document authorizes employers to release personnel files, criminal history details, etc, to the holder.)
b. Conduct the second/final interview after the investigation is complete. Use this interview to obtain clarification about application discrepancies, unreported findings and omissions, employment gaps, etc.
c. Do period background checks even after hiring the Applicant. “Red flag” or disqualifying information may not occur or become available until after hiring.
d. Background checks include an examination of local, county, state and federal criminal and civil court records. Because government offices have limited hours (closed weekends and holidays), it may take 2-4 weeks to complete a thorough background investigation.
e. Typically, a visit to the circuit clerk’s office is required to obtain detailed and verified information. These records are cross-checked and compared with online sources (social media, news media, personal references, and more).
f. Reference information may need to be evaluated and summarized in a report. This information is assessed and compared with other reference information.
g. Background investigations can cost $250 to $750 or more. Each case is different.
h. As a general rule, the more information you give your private detective, the less time will be needed.
Contact Private Detective Paladin "Pj" Jordan, CPP, with any questions about background investigations. Cell: 312.600.0311 / Email: firstname.lastname@example.org