June 23, 2016
By Brian Collins, CPA
In July 2015, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed into law new state rules clarifying background check requirements for employees and volunteers overseeing children. For volunteers age 18 or older, criminal background checks and child abuse clearances are required if the individual volunteers with a child care service activity or service responsible for a child’s welfare or having a direct volunteer contact with children.
Examples of a volunteer responsible for the welfare of a child or having direct contact with children can include but are not limited to:
- Parent/Guardian chaperones for schools
- Girl Scouts/Boy Scouts
- Agency volunteers that help with transportation or other services (volunteer school bus driver or assistant)
- Big Brother/Big Sisters
- Literacy programs
- Little League coaches
All prospective volunteers most obtain the following certifications:
- Report of criminal history from the Pennsylvania State Police; and
- Child Abuse History certification from the Department of Human Services (Child Abuse).
If the volunteer has not been a resident of the Pennsylvania for the entirety of the previous 10 years, a fingerprint-based federal criminal history must be obtained from the FBI.
As of August 25, 2015, organizations were required to have background checks and clearances for all first time or new volunteers to the organization. Existing or ongoing volunteers are not required to have background checks and clearances until July 1, 2016. The background checks and clearances need to be renewed every 5 years. Governor Wolf has waived the fees for criminal background checks and child abuse clearances for volunteers. FBI federal criminal history certification will cost approximately $26.
For questions related to the clearance requirements for volunteers or the Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance, contact the Child Line Verification Unit at 717-783-6211 or 877-371-5422.
Pennsylvania Department of Human Services