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« Open Letter to TLC from A Minor Consideration | Main | Poor Pitiful Jon »
Friday
May212010

Incredible Lack of Response From PA Dept of L&I

I called Rep Thomas Murt's office this afternoon to follow up on our phone call of the week of the child labor hearings, hoping to hear that his office had heard from the PA Department of Labor & Industry regarding the issue of ensuring the Gosselins children are working only with adults who have been cleared for child abuse and criminal backgrounds.

The forms for doing these checks are easy to obtain and submit and their results are completely confidential. The individual being checked fills them out and sends them in, and after they have been filled out with information indicating that the individual either has or has not been convicted of child abuse or a felony in PA they are sent back to that individual who then gives them to their prospective employer, volunteer coordinator, or whoever they will potentially be working under. Having the info sent back to the person applying for the job or volunteer position rather than directly to the prospective employer makes this a confidential process because if someone's papers come back showing that they've been convicted of something, they can always call the prospective employer and say something like, "Gee whiz, I'm withdrawing my application because I got another job..."

These two sets of paperwork must be completed, returned and handed in prior to any direct contact with children, and any responsible Pennylvania employer knows it. You cannot work as a teacher, in a day care center, or at any agency serving children without them. I have been filling them out for years because I am on the board of directors of an agency that services children here in Berks County, and I don't even work directly with the kids the agency serves.

In the third week of April Representative Murt personally told me he'd been trying to get a response on this from Dept of L&I Secretary Sandi Vito for the previous week with no luck. He kept asking, and the Dept of L&I just kept not responding. It is now six weeks later and Rep Murt's office just told me they are still waiting for a response.

For the past several years the Gosselin children have been followed around by and sometimes been alone in bathrooms, bedrooms and the woods with cameramen and other adults such as caterers, bodyguards, drivers, and have spent prolonged periods of time alone with nannies, babysitters, etc. There is no evidence that any of these adults went through the legally-required background checks, although that evidence has been repeatedly requested by a Pennsylvania State representative. There is also, based on this clearly profound lack of responsibility taken in regards to the safety of these children, no reason to believe that clearances have been secured for any of the adults working with the Gosselin children now that filming has resumed.

Ms. Vito, please respond to the multiple requests for information you have received from representative Murt's office, and prove me wrong.

Reader Comments (125)

WG- Just asking because I don't know- Do privately employed nannies require a police check in PA? They don't here although any responsible parent would ask for one IMO.Does the law require people who are not volunteers or in the professions serving children to have these checks? I would think that camera crews possibly don't fall under the laws governing child care providers, and that's how TLC gets away with it. Can you enlighten me please?

May 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterIDModo

The wording says it's anyone whose work normally and regularly brings them into contact with children, so it could be lunch room workers or anyone with regular contact with children due to their work. Any agency providing professional nannies should have them cleared.

May 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWerny Gal

To clarify, it's not just child care workers, it's anyone whose work normally and regularly brings them into contact with children. So as I understand it, if you were temporarily working construction on a home where kids lived you wouldn't need to do it, but if your job involved following children around with cameras, you would. The words "normally and regularly" are key.

May 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWerny Gal

I'm sputtering here wondering why the DOL is allowed to ignore his requests? Who has leverage over the Dept. of Labor to make them comply? It seems they run their own little autonomous organization within the PA government and they are obligated to do nothing if they so choose. I'll use Kate's words here, I don't get it.

May 21, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteritsaboutthekids

Thanks WG. That clears it up for me.
I wonder if Ms.Vito is not responding because they have been having trouble getting those checks done, or with the results. I can see TLC fighting this requirement as they fought the work permits, in that they believe that PA needs their tax revenue so badly that they need not comply with any state laws.
I wonder what would happen if Rep.Murt asked TLC the question instead of the Dept. of Labour.

May 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterIDModo

If TLC or the Gosselins never obtained work permits in the first place, you know DOL would not have done any checks on TLC's employees. Obtaining those work permits would have triggered the background checks, wouldn't they?

The thing is have background checks been done on the crew that is filming now? Probably not because they started the new filming very quickly.

Also, does anyone know if TLC obtained work permits in FL for the filming in Orlando? Just wondering.

May 21, 2010 | Unregistered Commentercjmiller53

Boy Werny, isn't this just pitiful. You would think the Gosselin parents, Figure 8 productions and TLC would want the info out there that everyone has been cleared. I am amazed at the level of "I don't give a hoot" this whole production takes...and they want us to believe they will do right by these children.

I posted this link up on 4-8 facebook page. Please keep us posted if they ever get an answer. Lordie bee....Keep asking Rep Murt...keep asking....

May 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterIrene S

PA Dept of Labor website:

ABSTRACT OF THE CHILD LABOR LAW (Pennsylvania)

MINIMUM AGE: Minors under 14 years of age may not be employed or permitted to work in any occupation, except children employed on farms or in domestic service in private homes. No minor under 14 years of age may be employed on a farm by a person other than the farmer. Under certain restrictions, caddies may be employed at the age of 12, news carriers at 11 years of age, and juvenile performers in the entertainment field at the age of 7. Minors and infants may be in the cast of a motion picture if special permit is obtained.

http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/about_l_i/10445/kid_power/552728

I'm sure this has been discussed, but as I understand the above, the kids aren't working in a "motion picture."
As for any permits needed, good question. Guess we'll have to write Ms. Vito and ask her ourselves?

May 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTippit

It seems to me that making it clear that all the proper permits and background checks have been completed would make TLC and everyone else involved, including the Commonwealth of PA, look more professional and responsible. If TLC really wanted to appear family-friendly instead of just appearing to care about making money they could easily comply with this. It's cheap and easy to do.

May 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWerny Gal

To answer your earlier question, IDModo, if you hire a nanny through an agency, the agency should have already done this with all their employees. That would be one of the reasons to go with a credible agency instead of hiring someone privately. But even if you hire someone privately you could still request that your perspective nanny/child caregiver apply to have the clearances and then give you the papers when they get them back in the mail prior to beginning work with the child.

May 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWerny Gal

Does PA have a "public records request" law? Meaning anyone can request public records of a non-confidential nature and receive information. I realize the background checks are confidential but Dept of Labor can state whether background checks have been conducted or not. And also, how about a public records request on whether TLC complied with Florida child labor laws. Just a thought.

May 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmy2

I'm with Itsa: who do this woman report to? How does she get away with not replying/complying?

Why can't Mr. Murt force the issue?

May 21, 2010 | Unregistered Commentercherier1

I can see TLC fighting this requirement as they fought the work permits, in that they believe that PA needs their tax revenue so badly that they need not comply with any state laws.

IMDO, seems like TLC just wants to win more then they care about the children. TLC can walk away one day & say Jon & Kate allowed this. We see that kind of Kop~out all over this country in big companies.

On the facebook page a Minor Consideration a poster put up a link to a Little House on the Prairie actress (Mary Ingalls) She has lived in the industry & she does not recommend it for kids. Telling.

http://www.q13fox.com/videobeta/6098622d-ad78-4fb2-ad5a-1dc8f6708d26/News/Meet-Melissa-Anderson

Have a great weekend everyone.

May 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterIrene S

Okey dokey, this post makes me proud to be a citizen of the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania!

May 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCJ

This makes me SICK. As someone up thread asked, WHO has leverage over the DOL?
Aren't there any sanctions for failure to comply?
Whoever (if anyone?) has power above the DOL, IMO, should IMMEDIATELY PULL THE PLUG on this joke of a circus.
Until ALL of the proper and LEGAL paperwork is submitted and poured over by the right people, no one should be filming anything. But then, is it the DOL that are "the right people?" Sounds like a conflict of interest to me, just as "appointing someone to watch over the children's interests..." while filming; this should be "A NEUTRAL PARTY."
OMG, this just makes me SICKER all the time.

May 21, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteralana

bedrooms, bathrooms and woods? Oh my! Do you think Ms. Vito reads this blog?

May 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHeaven Help Us

I strongly urge anyone who hasn't seen the Murt hearing to take some time and do so. The more you delve into this story, the more disturbing it gets.
Pay particular attention to the questions levied at the Labor Board representatives. They never went to the Gosselin home, as requested.

It's the second video listed:
http://www.repmurt.com/Video.aspx

May 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTippit

cherier1, I tried to find some sort of a flow chart of PA government today and was unable to find one so I'm not sure who is above or below who. But again, it's just common courtesy, professional or not, to return calls, and this is not about some silly little thing, this is serious. Frankly I find the whole thing bizarre.

May 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWerny Gal

Werny Gal ~
My take on the hierarchy of PA government is... the department heads report to the Governor, similar to US Cabinet postions report to the President.

http://sites.state.pa.us/PA_Constitution.html

Article IV
THE EXECUTIVE
Appointing Power
Section 8.
(a) The Governor shall appoint a Secretary of Education and such other officers as he shall be authorized by law to appoint. The appointment of the Secretary of Education and of such other officers as may be specified by law, shall be subject to the consent of two-thirds or a majority of the members elected to the Senate as is specified by law.

Taken from the web page for Gov Rendell:

Governor's Cabinet Officials

The Governor's Cabinet comprises the directors of various state agencies. These directors, are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. Each Secretary is responsible for the oversight of his or her agency. An equally important responsibility of all Cabinet members is advising the Governor on subjects related to their respective agencies.

May 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCJ

3/16/09 (Sandi Vito)

Pennsylvania Labor Secretary Arrested
CNN - Anderson Cooper
http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/2009/03/16/pennsylvania-labor-secretary-arrested/

PA Acting Secretary of Labor and Industry, Sandi Vito, arrested on public drunkenness charge, 3/16/09.

May 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTippit

i'm sorry but i don't think it is anyone's business but a parent's to require background checks etc for nannies and babysitters. it should be at the parents' discretion not ours.

unless there is proof (and i don't mean "someone said") that the gosselin kids were alone with the film crews, mic guy etc for any length of time i don't think it should be a topic for the government to handle.

May 22, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkimmie

Ha, ha. I was wrong. Now the pap photos are gradually emerging of the Discovery Cove trip. Just in time to promote the show.

There they are: all dressed up in new vacation clothes and Sketcher shoes with the bodyguard. I wonder if they got any unflattering shots? Oh yeah they did; Kate in a bikini.

I want to add that I, too, am disgusted by PA lack of response. Either TLC has worked a deal or somebody is incompetent. We need to get somebody's ear to investigate this.

May 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGeorgiaMom

The government at work. Heard a story on TV the other day about a Federal Census worker going door to door getting census data and a woman recognized his name/face with one she had seen on a Sex Offender Data Base for her area. A background check for this guy was never completed BEFORE they assigned him to go door to door! Another incidence of closing the barn door after the horses are out!

There are just no sufficient words to describe the utter incompetency of the PA Dept of L & I to protect its most innocent citizens

May 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBabsy

Janet Palazzotto posted this link on the 4-8 Please Boycott FB page.

For those who think background checks aren't that important....what if this was YOUR child on the set (in the production home). Why is this an issue that even needs to be debated? Is it so awful to want to keep child molesters AWAY from children?

http://abclocal.go.com/kfsn/story?section=news%2Fstate&id=3735530

Nickelodeon Production Assistant Arrested for Child Molestation

Saturday, December 17, 2005

May 22, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteritsaboutthekids

Kimmie, what is your objection? Having background checks on nannies is like having First Aid/CPR certificates for swimming pool life guards. The background check, like the CPR training, is directly related to the quality of service provided.

Taking this one step further, if a nanny was applying to care for your children and they showed you First Aid/CPR certificates, would you not also be even more impressed if they showed you their certificates of child abuse clearance and criminal background clearance?

I don't know how many kids die in this country of drownings in swimming pools every year, but one out of every four girls and one out of every 5-7 boys is sexually abused under the age of 18, with over 95% of the abusers being someone they know and trust. These are epidemic statistics. If these were cancer statistics, curing cancer would be a national priority.

Parents cannot be too safe. Of course, parents who would request backround checks would also be the kind of parents who talk to their kids about how precious they are and that their bodies are private, and they have'd be the kind of parents who talk with their kids about feelings.

Readers, do you think Jon and Kate are these kinds of parents?

May 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWerny Gal

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