What's the difference between an agency and a registry?

I'm confused about understanding the difference between an agency and a registry. Which one is better?

Scot Cheben
Scot Cheben
Senior Advisor

It's not the question of who is better, but understanding the difference between the two and the risk associated with them.  Understanding this can save you money and protect you from potential legal problems.  Here are some components to consider.  


When it comes to caring for a loved one by a registry, you may be responsible for knowing what services they need.  By going through an agency, they are responsible for making sure you get the right services from the right caregiver. They match caregivers to clients based on their personalities and skill-set needed.

Taxes & Injuries:

By using a registry, you are responsible for reporting and paying taxes, social security, and providing worker’s compensation (in case of a work related injury in the home) for the caregiver. They are essentially your employee.  Failure to do so can result in fines and penalties. Most agencies employee W-2 employees — not 1099. You should pay the agency directly (never the caregiver), and the agency manages all taxes and expenses related to employment that are required by the state and federal governments.

Hiring and Scheduling:

Hiring someone from a registry, you are responsible for the interviewing and hiring process. You will also be responsible for scheduling. If a caregiver calls out or doesn’t show up, you will need to find their replacement.  Agencies have experience with hiring compassionate and dependable caregivers. They are also responsible for scheduling and ensuring reliable and consistent care.


Going through a registry, you are in charge and responsible for managing the caregiver’s performance.  An agency will manage all of the employees and should perform unscheduled supervisory visits.


You will be responsible for losses if the employee steals from you or your loved one when you go through a registry.  Agencies should be licensed (if required by state), insured, and all of their employees should be bonded.

Background Checks:

When using a registry you need to verify if they have done a background check.  Not all do.  You are responsible for this and neglecting to order and review a background check could place your loved one in danger.  Agencies provide background checks on all of their employees. They should be screened through criminal background checks and license checks, and are required to provide the proper identification.

Please consider these things when bringing someone in to care for a loved one.  

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