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Care.com deleted ‘tens of thousands’ of providers after report found lax vetting procedures

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A prior investigation found providers without proper licensing and criminal histories

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Image: Care.com

On March 8th, The Wall Street Journal published a damning report about caregiver platform Care.com, which found that it put the burden on users to evaluate its caregivers, that it didn’t conduct full background checks or vet the daycare centers that were listed on the site, and that in some instances, providers were unlicensed and even were responsible for deaths of the children in their care. In a followup report published today, the WSJ says that the company removed “tens of thousands of unverified day-care center listings” prior to the publication of that initial report.

The original report found that there were “about 9 instances” in the last six years where a provider was listed on the site had a criminal record, and then committed a crime against someone they were caring from, ranging from “theft, child abuse, sexual assault, and murder.”

The Journal was also able to determine that “hundreds” of listed daycare centers lacked the proper state licensing, even though they were listed as such on the site. It raised questions about the procedures that the company had in place to ensure that the centers and providers it listed were safe for members to use. Care.com CEO Shelia Lirio Marcelo told the Journal at the time that incidents like this were “rare but ‘very heartbreaking.” Following questions from the publication, the site began issuing prominent alerts to members, and notified some members of account closures.

The Journal says that the site “removed about 72% of day-care centers, or about 46,594 businesses, listed on the site,” with some listed just days before the initial report was published. The company says that it removed 45 percent of daycare centers, and cited a different set of metrics from that of the WSJ’s analysis. Care.com did not provide the Journal with specific numbers, and hasn’t replied to a request for comment from The Verge. We’ll update if we hear back from them.

Following the publication of the original report, Care.com began to implement new policies, saying in a securities filing that it would start conducting a “preliminary screening” process before people could apply for listed jobs, and that it would remove business listings that it had generated, but hadn’t been claimed by their owners. It also created a new board position to cover safety on the site.

In response to the original report, Care.com released a statement clarifying that the company had noted on the site that it did not verify information for each center and recently removed unverified listings.

Although daycares are not our primary offering to the millions of members we serve, we have also provided a directory of daycare centers for families who prefer care outside the home. Daycares are an important option for families given the predominance of child care deserts (1/2 of families with children live in care deserts) and the need for more affordable care options. Like many digital platforms we used publicly available data to create free directory listings and provided the opportunity for these businesses to claim and enhance their listing. We have always noted on the site that we do not verify the information for each center and again, encourage families to do their own due diligence to verify the information most important to them. We recently made the decision to remove unclaimed daycare listings, representing 45% of the total day care listings, to help ensure more clarity and transparency to our users. Our site is constantly evolving and we are committed to helping families navigate the complex issues of finding care for their loved ones, safely and with confidence.”

Update April 1st, 2:36pm: Added statement from Care.com.