For Immediate Release: Contact: Cindy Mall
April 7, 1998 415-882-0234
Statewide Public Education Campaign Launched to Prevent Nanny/Baby Sitter Abuse
Pacific Life Foundation Grant Helps to Educate Public aboutLife-Saving TrustLine Program
Sacramento – Parents and children victimized by unconscionable nannies and baby-sitters launched a comprehensive statewide public education campaign today for TrustLine – the state’s only background check for in-home child care with access to Department of Justice records – to help prevent abuse.
“You can never do too much to see that your children are safe. Parents should use all resources at their disposal, including TrustLine, checking references and conducting a thorough interview, to find the right in-home caregiver,” said Mary Beth Phillips, a TrustLine founder, whose daughter was permanently blinded after being shaken severely by a neighbor’s nanny. “Being registered on TrustLine is a minimum requirement that parents should ask of a caregiver. We hope the TrustLine campaign encourages parents and caregivers to use this life-saving service.”
TrustLine is a child protection program jointly administered by the California Department of Social Services and the non-profit Child Care Resource and Referral Network. All caregivers listed with TrustLine have been cleared through a fingerprint check of records at the California Department of Justice. This means they have no disqualifying criminal convictions or substantiated child abuse reports in California. It is also 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 from the California Department of Justice’s California Criminal History System; the Child Abuse Central Index of California; and fingerprint records of the FBI Criminal History System. TrustLine is endorsed by the California Academy ofPediatrics.
“With talk of fingerprinting and criminal records, some parents may feel uncomfortable requiring their caregiver to register with TrustLine,” said Eloise Anderson, Director, Department of Social Services. “But is it worth the risk to not call or not register an in-home caregiver on TrustLine? It’s simply the right thing to do.”
Pacific Life Foundation, the charitable giving arm of Pacific Life Insurance Company, provided a $180,000 grant for the public education campaign that includes the creation and statewide distribution of English and Spanish television and radio public service announcements, brochures and posters as well ascorporate fundraising and media campaigns.
“Pacific Life Foundation is proud to support this life-saving program,” said Robert G. Haskell, President of Pacific Life Foundation. “We encourage other organizations to help spread the word about TrustLine.”
According to Patricia Siegel, executive director, California Child Care Resource & Referral Network, more than 30,000 applicants have been processed through TrustLine. “In 1997, more than 800 applicants were denied approval from the registry because of criminal backgrounds, including individuals with criminal convictions for murder, manslaughter, willful child cruelty, sexual assault and kidnapping,” she said. “It’s an invaluable resource to prevent child abuse and address issues of quality of care in license exempt child care settings.”
Program administrators said that parents and potential caregivers will be more likely to call TrustLine’s 800 number because the campaign uses positive, nurturing themes and images to create interest and awareness.
The public education campaign is aimed at parents and those that influence them on a daily basis, such as pediatricians, hospital birthing center personnel, child care resource and referral agencies, play groups and more. TrustLine’s posters and brochures feature bright colors with smiling toddlers framed in flowers with the headline, “Did you ever imagine you could love someone so much?” Two public service announcements, one in English and one in Spanish, also will be distributed to television and radio stations statewide. The television spots show a women caring for a toddler in a variety of settings. However, it’s not until the end of the piece, when the parents walk through the front door, that it is revealed that the caregiver is a nanny/baby-sitter.
Siegel pointed out that all child care providers who operate in State-Licensed settings, such as child care centers, have undergone a similar screening process. All employment agencies also are required by law to register their caregivers with TrustLine upon placement