As a parent, it can be overwhelming to think about how you could ever trust anyone to take care of your child and prioritize their safety as much as you do. Whether it's an extra shift at work or date night, you will eventually have to introduce a caregiver into your child’s life. But how can you find someone who will be genuinely dedicated to your child’s safety and happiness? When the time comes to give someone that direct access to your child, we want to help you develop the most thorough screening process to strengthen any vulnerabilities and lower the risk of your child being sexually abused.
Follow-Up with References
It’s important to require a minimum of three references from your prospective caregiver to attain several different perspectives about the applicant. The best references are people you already know and whose judgment you trust such as your friends, family members and co-workers who have hired that applicant before. Follow through with their references and ask questions such as “What was their interaction style with your children?”, “Why do they no longer work for you?” and “Would you rehire them?”
Conduct a Background Check and Research Public Records
Interview the caregiver in person or through a virtual meeting. This gives you a chance to personally analyze how the caregiver would handle different real-life scenarios and how they would get along with your child. Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as needed to ensure your child will be in good hands.
Check Social Media
In addition to a professional background check, looking at their social media gives you further insight into their daily life and personality. Does the content they post align with your values? Are there any red flags in their pictures, posts, or comments? Ask them about any concerning information you find.
Once they are hired, drop in unexpectedly and without notice so they understand that you are actively engaged in your child’s safety. Knowing that you are keeping a watchful eye over them could encourage the caregiver to follow your rules, uphold safety boundaries and do a better job overall.
Set Up Cameras in Your Household
Having an additional form of monitoring your child when you aren’t physically there can help decrease the risk of sexual abuse from happening within your household. Along with traditional home surveillance devices, there are also cameras that include mobile software so you can have access to a live-stream to easily check in on your child from your phone.
Avoid Hiring Older Children or Teenagers
If they are still young enough to be dependent on their own parents, they should not be taking care of your child. It’s also important to remember that child on child sexual abuse occurs more often than people believe, so it’s safer to hire a professional caregiver.
Establish Caregiving Boundaries and Clear Expectations
Set age-appropriate rules for caregiving and talk to your child about those rules. Explain why their caregiver has to follow those rules, how to uphold them, and how to speak up if those rules are broken. Body safety boundaries and clear rules of interaction will decrease the opportunities that the caregiver has to use their authoritative power to take advantage of your child. Additional rules, such as determining how much time is appropriate to spend online or using technology and stating that anyone visiting the house must be approved by a parent in advance, can also be helpful in strengthening potential vulnerabilities to sexual abuse.
It’s important to take your time and be thorough with each of these checklist suggestions when hiring a caregiver. Remember that prevention is possible when a parent is proactive in protecting their child from sexual abuse.