THE NANNY NETWORK, INC.
CONTRA COSTA TIMES
To nanny or not to nanny is a question facing area parents in the wake of a hit-and-run accident Oct. 26, 2003 in which two young children were killed in Danville, allegedly by a nanny rushing to work who lost control of her car and then fled.
TrustLine, the statewide database and registry for in-home care providers, has been flooded with calls since the accident from parents checking up on their nannies, said Bridget Doughty, a TrustLine phone counselor.
TrustLine, founded in 1987, is a statewide database that screens in-home caregivers based on their fingerprints and other pertinent information. TrustLine scans national FBI records as well as state Department of Justice records for criminal convictions, child abuse reports or other serious violations. The database is constantly updated. Anyone can call TrustLine to see if his or her provider is registered.
At present, there are 97,038 providers on the database and 11,713 who have been disqualified, according to TrustLine’s Web site.
Registering with TrustLine is voluntary, although state law prescribes that all nanny placement agencies must register their providers on TrustLine.
The profession is largely unregulated. Nannies do not have to be licensed nor do they have to register with TrustLine if they are seeking a position on their own, although many of them do.
The hit-and-run suspect, Jimena Barreto, 45, was not registered on the TrustLine database, Doughty said. Had she been, any prospective employer checking the database would have learned of Barreto’s DUI arrests and numerous driver’s license suspensions and probations.
While that might not have prevented the accident, parents must be vigilant in screening any potential in-home care provider, cautioned area child care referral centers and nanny agencies.
“Parents are a lot more savvy these days looking for child care. But someone comes with personal recommendations and parents think they do not need to check further. That is one way people slip through the cracks,” said June Harrison, area manager for Contra Costa Child Care Council, a nonprofit resource agency funded by the state Department of Education.
Barreto had her own Web site stating that “multiples” — twins, triplets and so on — were her specialty and had glowing recommendations from two local TV anchorwomen whose children she had tended a few years ago.
Harrison and others stressed that a family’s child care provider be registered with TrustLine. It can be done for about $120, but it takes several weeks for a clearance due to state cutbacks in personnel, Doughty said. Some nanny agencies use a private investigator to check backgrounds and get answers in a few days, while they wait for the TrustLine check, said Janet Pacheco of Be In Our Care nanny agency in Walnut Creek.
Agencies also require a tuberculosis test, CPR and first aid certification, proof of residency and other data. Applicants’ references, job histories and personal information are screened carefully, according to both Pacheco and Robin LeGrand of A Nanny Connection in Danville.
“(Nannies with problems) who know you do a background check will not come to an agency,” LeGrand said.
Families pay agencies $800 to $2,800 as fees for their service.
“You get what you pay for,” said longtime nanny Deirdre Bellows, who works in the East Bay through an agency. “Anybody can get a Web site and promote themselves as anything. Children are not an area where you cut corners. I feel really bad for the family that employed this woman.”
RESOURCES AND TIPS
TrustLine: 1-800-822-8490 or www.trustline.org
Contra Costa Child Care Council: 925-676-KIDS, 925-778-KIDS, 510-758-2099
Child Care Links, Pleasanton: 925-417-8733
Bananas, Oakland: 510-658-0381
National Association of Nannies, www.nannyassociation.com
• Be sure provider is registered and cleared by TrustLine or other reputable background checker, such as a private investigator
• Ask for a DMV printout of driving history
• Check work experience and history and check references
• Take time choosing your provider
• Should be certified in child/infant CPR and first aid
• Do a brief tryout before hiring the nanny
¢ Published in The Contra Costa Times on Monday, November 3, 2003
NETWORK, INC. (925) 256-8575