Outside the Bay Area
trustline [at]
Editors' Notes: 

​TrustLine is a database of nannies and baby-sitters that have cleared criminal background checks in California. It’s the only authorized screening program of in-home caregivers in the state that has access to fingerprint records at the California Department of Justice and the FBI. TrustLine was created by the California Legislature to give parents an important tool to use when selecting a caregiver for their children. All child care providers listed with TrustLine have submitted their fingerprints to the California Department of Justice and have no disqualifying criminal convictions in California. The California Department of Social Services and the nonprofit California Child Care Resource and Referral Network administer the program.

To check if a provider is registered on TrustLine or to register, call 1-800-822-8490.

TrustLine is California’s official and most comprehensive background check for in-home caregivers (babysitters and nannies). Since these child care providers don’t need to be licensed, it’s important to make sure you’re placing your child with someone you can trust.

TrustLine is the only authorized screening program of license-exempt caregivers in the state, and has access to fingerprint records at the California Department of Justice, the FBI, and the California Child Abuse Central Index.

TrustLine is administered by the California Child Care Resource & Referral Network and the California Department of Social Services, and is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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[Editor] This letter appeared originally in Messages from the Moderator section of the BPN Announcements newsletter dated March 12, 2004

March 2004

A number of you probably read the Chronicle story about the nanny who stole large amounts of money from a number of families who employed her. One of her vicims was a list subscriber. Although this woman has now been arrested, I wanted to put out a reminder about the importance of background checks when hiring a nanny.

Trustline is a statewide nonprofit that does background checks on individual child care providers. When hiring a provider, it only takes a moment to call them at 800-822-8490 to find out if the nanny you're thinking of hiring has been cleared by them. If a provider is not on their list (many aren't), please consider going through the screening process. It costs $128 -- two days worth of childcare -- and can tell you whether the provider has a criminal record. It's the most thorough screening out there, since they can check state Department of Justice and FBI databases that private investigators and background check agencies don't have access to. Some subsidized child care programs cover the cost for low-income families.

Here's how it works:

  • the provider or parent calls the 800 number above to request a fingerprint card or you can get the application at your local Child Care Resource & Referral (like BANANAS).
  • the provider gets fingerprints scanned at the Department of Social Services (1515 Clay St., Suite 1102, Oakland) by scheduling with Lifescan 800-315-4507.
  • after fingerprinting, the screening process can take several months due to FBI and DOJ slowness. It's impractical when making hiring decisions, and it's not designed for cases of identity theft (and would not have caught the nanny in the Chronicle article if she was using the names of reputable nannies), but it's still the best system out there.

    This may seem excessive, but consider that one in nine applicants is denied clearance, and that Trustline was founded after a mother discovered that the nanny who had shaken a baby hard enough to blind her was back at work caring for children. Almost all childcare providers are loving and trustworthy, but this system exists to catch the ones who aren't.

    Jennifer Monahan