Nanny Background Checks: Why TrustLine is the Gold Standard for California

Hiring a nanny is a process usually fraught with anxiety. Ideally, you want someone who shares your ideas on child rearing – everything from feeding times, play dates, naps, and discipline. It’s a big decision.

The more information you can gather about a potential nanny, the more educated your hiring decision will be. The final screening step, the background check, shouldn’t be skipped. The protection it brings your child and the peace of mind it will bring you is more than worth the cost.

The question is what company conducts background checks specifically for caregivers? Surely the background check that is conducted for construction workers is not the same as the one used for caregivers. The threshold should be more stringent.

So what are those background checks screening for?

Unfortunately, this is a question that most of us do not want to think about. We want to trust that the nanny is being honest when he/she says that they have a clean record or that the $29 online background check is thorough enough to flag the ‘really bad infractions’.

What if I were to tell you, research indicates that basic online background checks only have access to criminal information for 29/58 counties in California, and not even the Child Abuse Index?

Half of the counties in California, and not even the Child Abuse Index?

Is that what you thought you were getting? There is only one background check that is considered the gold standard for babysitters and nannies in California, and that is the TrustLine background check.

———If it’s not TrustLine, It’s Not the Whole Picture———

TrustLine is different from the 3rd party online background checks because it has access to fingerprint records from the California Department of Justice’s California Criminal History System, and the FBI Criminal History System. Private investigators and private background check companies do not have the clearance level required to access these fingerprint records. Not only that, the criminal history housed at the CA Department of checks services also don’t have access to the Child Abuse Central Index of CA housed at the CA DOJ – but TrustLine does. In addition, TrustLine checks several other important databases that are explained further below.

Keep in mind, the TrustLine process takes at lease 2 weeks to return results. It won’t be instantaneous like you would receive on a 3rd party background check, which can be frustrating to hear considering the digital age in which we live in. The reality is that a quality background check requires time and manpower. So if you stop to consider the alternative, are you really willing to take the risk? Half of the counties in California, and not even the Child Abuse Index? The two weeks are worth the wait.

What is TrustLine?

TrustLine is California’s registry of in-home child care providers, tutors, in-home counselors, and child care staff at Ancillary Child Care Centers who have passed a background screening. All caregivers registered with TrustLine have been cleared through a fingerprint check of records at the California Department of Justice and the FBI. Individuals registered on TrustLine have no disqualifying criminal convictions or substantiated child abuse reports in California and no disqualifying criminal convictions on the FBIs criminal history system. TrusLine is administered by the California Department of Social Services and the non-profit California Child Care Resource and Referral Network.




What does Trustline check?

TrustLine is an effective tool for parents to check the backgrounds of babysitters, nannies, tutors, and in-home counselors to determine if an applicant has criminal convictions or substantiated child abuse reports in California or criminal convictions reported to the FBI. TrustLine is the only background check authorized by state law to use three databases that the general public, including private investigators and private background check companies, cannot access. These databases include the fingerprint records form the California department of Justice’s California Criminal History System and FBI’s criminal History system and a name check of the Child Abuse Central Index of California.

TrustLine 3rd Party Background Checks
Fingerprints Yes No
California Criminal History Yes (all 58 Counties) Only 28 Counties
Child Abuse Central Index
of California
Yes No
FBI Criminal History Records Yes No
Community Care Licensing
Yes No
Teaching Credentials Yes No
Certified Nursing Assistant
Yes No

Why does it matter that other background checks don’t check fingerprints?

Fingerprints are considered ‘unique identifiers’, which essentially means that no two people have the same fingerprints. It’s fairly easy for someone to change their name to try and conceal a criminal past, and there are many people with the same or similar names. The only nanny background check that checks fingerprints is TrustLine.


How much does it cost?

TrustLine costs approximately $130. While the total background check fee through TrustLine remains consistent, the fingerprint rolling fee varies depending on where the person is fingerprinted and  how much the vendor charges to roll the applicants prints.

Who is required to use TrustLine?

All employment agencies (nanny and babysitter placement agencies) are required by law to register their caregivers with TrustLine upon placement. Transport Escort Services are also required by law to TrustLine register individual(s) that are transporting minors. Transport Escort Services transport minors across stare lines to residential facilities with permission from the minor’s parents or legal guardian. Businesses providing Ancillary Child Care Centers to customers or clients while the customers or clients shop or obtain services (i.e. health clubs and gyms) must register on TrustLine those staff members who are 18 years of age or older that work in the child care center. Child care providers who are not required to be licensed in California (babysitters, nannies, etc.) and who are providing child care to parents receiving a governmental child care subsidy (except grandparents, aunts, and uncles) are required by law to register with TrustLine.

Is TrustLine effective?

TrustLine is an effective tool for parents to check the background of a babysitter or nanny. Thousands of applicants who apply to be on the TrustLine registry are disqualified because of criminal activity in their past. TrustLine has denied applicants with convictions such as murder, manslaughter, willful child cruelty, and kidnapping. Ten percent (10%) of applicants were denied being registered on TrustLine due to criminal or child abuse history in the 2015 calendar year. Out of the applicants that were denied, 60 had a serious felony conviction.

I TrusLined my Nanny, now what?

TrustLine is just one important tool to help you choose the best in-home caregiver for your child. It is the parents’ obligation to learn as much information about their potential hire as possible so that they can make an informed and educated hiring decision. Our TrustLine Tips provide additional suggestions for choosing a nanny or babysitter. Remember to trust your instinct, and take all precautionary steps available to you.

for more information on TrustLine, go to or call 1-800-822-8490.

About Begoña Guereca

Begoña Guereca is a double Bruin, graduating with a B.A. in Political Science and a Master of Public Policy (MPP) from UCLA. She is passionate about issues of disparities in child welfare and the social determinants of health, poverty and inequality. She currently works for the California Child Care Resource and Referral Network as a Research and Policy Analyst. Prior to joining the Network, Begoña served as the 2014-2015 Luskin Leaders Fellow, working on child sex trafficking issues for the Los Angeles County (LAC) Commission on Human Relations. She has also worked in Senator Feinstein’s Los Angeles field office as an Administrative Researcher.