Baptist Childrens' House v. Com., Indus. Bd. of Dept. of Labor and Industry

Decision Date07 May 1980
Citation414 A.2d 159,51 Pa.Cmwlth. 227
CourtPennsylvania Commonwealth Court

Raymond Jenkins, Jenkins, Tarquini & Jenkins, Ambler, for petitioner.

Susan Shinkman, Daniel R. Schuckers, Asst. Attys. Gen., Harrisburg, for respondent.


MENCER, Judge.

This is an appeal by the Baptist Children's House (petitioner) from an adjudication by the Industrial Board of the Department of Labor and Industry (Board).

Petitioner owns and operates a group foster home located in a single-family residence and occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Steven McKee (houseparents), their two children, and five foster children. On January 19, 1977, the Department of Labor and Industry (Department) issued an order directing petitioner to submit plans which demonstrate the group home's compliance with the Fire and Panic Act (Act), Act of April 27, 1927, P.L. 465, as amended, 35 P.S. § 1221 et seq., and regulations promulgated thereunder.

On June 20, 1977, the Department issued an order to show cause why, inter alia, petitioner should not be directed to comply with Section 8 of the Act, 35 P.S. § 1228, 1 and further, why, by its noncompliance, the premises should not be vacated, in accordance with Section 12 of the Act, 35 P.S. § 1232. 2 After a hearing, the Board found that the group home was subject to, and was being operated in violation of, the Act. The Board ordered that the Department institute an order to vacate and denied petitioner's request to vacate the order to show cause. This appeal followed. We reverse.

The Department determined that petitioner's group home is subject to its rgulation under Section 2 of the Act, 35 P.S. § 1222, which provides that "(t) enement houses, apartment houses, apartment hotels, club houses, lodging houses, and rooming houses" are Class IV buildings covered by the Act and under Department regulations, found at 34 Pa.Code § 37.1, which define "lodging house" and "rooming house" as "boarding house," which is defined as "(a) ny building, except a hotel, inn, or tavern, in which persons are lodged, for a day or night or longer period, for consideration." Petitioner argues that it is not subject to the Department's regulation under the Act and that the Department's determination to the contrary is in error. We agree.

This group home was established by petitioner in order to provide family-oriented care for five foster children, the majority of whom are wards of the Commonwealth, under the supervision of a married couple who are full-time professional child-care workers. The house is a single-family dwelling and the living arrangements are those of a single family. Petitioner receives some funding from state and local welfare agencies.

While, in a broad sense, the terms "lodging house," "rooming house," and "boarding house," as defined, might encompass this group home arrangement, we do not believe the legislature intended this result.

First, we do not believe that a group home supported, as here, entirely by a nonprofit corporation which is funded in part by governmental agencies is a dwelling "in which persons are lodged . . . for consideration," as those terms are commonly understood.

Second, if the Department's interpretation were accepted, its definition of a boarding house could well include any home in which foster children are placed. As such, the Department's interpretation seems unreasonably broad in light of the extensive regulation contemplated by Section 1 of the Act, 35 P.S. § 1221, and therefore may not be imputed to the legislature. 1...

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7 cases
  • Asper v. Haffley
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Superior Court
    • March 31, 1983
    ...the court found that the decision of the Commonwealth Court in Baptist Children's House v. Commonwealth of Pa. Industrial Board of Dept. of Labor and Industry, 51 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 227, 414 A.2d 159 (1980), applied to exclude coverage. In that case, the Commonwealth Court found that the ......
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