Deep Background

Care.com Nailed for Shallow Due-Diligence


October 23, 2019

Looking back, it seems as though Care.com, a company that offers online listings of babysitters and other caregivers, was taking big risks by doing only limited vetting on the care providers it recommended to families.  The headline on a Wall Street Journal exposé on the company earlier this year read, “Care.com Puts Onus on Families to Check Caregivers’ Backgrounds—With Sometimes Tragic Outcomes; The largest online marketplace for such services says its members are responsible for ensuring background checks are performed.” 

            The Journal found that in about nine instances over the previous six years, caregivers who had police records were recommended on Care.com and later were accused of committing crimes while caring for members’ children or older relatives.  The alleged crimes ranged from theft to child abuse, sexual assault and murder.  The Journal also found hundreds of cases in which day-care centers that Care.com said were state-licensed didn’t actually have licenses.

In Care.com’s 13 years of operation before the exposé articles by the Journal and the Knoxville News Sentinel, the company performed what it called“preliminary screening” but not complete background checks of the caregivers it recommended, the newspapers said.  The company didn’t confirm the caregivers’ claimed credentials, and also didn’t vet day-care centers listed on its site.  Instead, the company recommended that families buy supplemental screening that cost from $59 to $300, the Journal said.

            After the critical media coverage, Care.com announced it would begin doing deeper background checks of caregivers, such as checking for criminal cases and confirming Social Security numbers. The company also said it removed thousands of unconfirmed daycare-center listings.

            In 2018, Care.com paid $480,000 and to change its practices to settle allegations lodged by the Massachusetts Attorney General that the company had “misled Massachusetts families about the comprehensiveness of its background check products,” the state AG said in a news release. The settlement “requires Care.com to ensure that parents know what they are getting when they purchase a background check,” Attorney General Maura Healey said.