New Website Offers Clarification for Child Abuse Clearances, Brown Says
1/8/2015
HARRISBURG – To help raise awareness about many of the changes taking place regarding child abuse background clearances in Pennsylvania, the Department of Human Services has launched a new website at www.KeepKidsSafe.pa.gov to offer guidance to adults about the new rules, which took effect recently, said Rep. Rosemary M. Brown (R-Monroe/Pike).

The changes in child abuse background clearances were the result of new laws to help further protect children. They were based on recommendations from the Task Force on Child Protection, which was established after the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal.

Someone whose profession involves direct contact with children will be required to obtain both criminal background check clearances and child abuse clearances, and to have those clearances recertified every three years. These new background check clearance requirements for all employees went into effect Dec. 31, 2014. If an existing employee already has obtained the required clearances prior to Dec. 31, 2014, then those clearances will be valid for three years from the time they were most recently certified. If an existing employee’s clearances are older than three years old, or if they never before obtained clearances but now will be required to get them, they have until Dec. 31, 2015, to obtain the clearances.

Volunteers who have resided in the Commonwealth continuously for at least the past 10 years will be required to obtain only the State Police criminal background check and the child abuse clearance. In addition to these two clearances, volunteers residing in Pennsylvania for less than 10 years would also need to obtain an FBI criminal background check clearance. These requirements for volunteers will go into effect July 1, 2015. If these clearances were obtained prior to July 1, 2015, they will be valid for three years from the time they were most recently certified. It should be emphasized that these background clearances are portable, meaning they do not have to duplicate this process for each volunteer position being held.

The clearances include the State Police criminal background check; a child abuse clearance from the state Department of Human Services (formerly the Department of Public Welfare); and an FBI criminal background check clearance, which includes fingerprinting. Some organizations incur the cost, while others ask the volunteers to pay. The fees are: child abuse clearance, $10; state police criminal background check clearance, $10; and FBI clearance, $30.

The new law does not subject one-time volunteers, such as parents who visit school for a career day or as a guest reader, to these requirements.

The vast majority of organizations, schools and churches that use volunteers already have their own stringent background check clearance policies in place. The new law sets minimum requirements, but nothing in this law prohibits organizations from establishing or continuing even more stringent internal policies.

The www.KeepKidsSafe.pa.gov website also includes online training and providers, changes to the Child Protective Services Law, and online ChildLine clearances with links to state police, FBI clearance applications and electronic reporting of child abuse suspicions.

Anyone with suspicions that a child is being abused should call the department’s statewide ChildLine hotline at 1-800-932-0313.

Representative Rosemary M. Brown
189th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Krisinda Corbin
717.705.2032
KCorbin@pahousegop.com  
RepBrown.com / Facebook.com/RepRosemaryBrown
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