Pennsylvania Act 153 Background Checks Information
NOVEMBER, 2015 UPDATE
*** Question may be researched at www.keepkidssafe.pa.gov. For questions regarding the process, contact ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313. ***
The new law, as of July 1, 2015, has made several changes to volunteer and employee compliance and clearances. While there have been changes to school-based employees and foster parents, the following is related only to BSA volunteer and employee compliance. Below are a few of the items that have changed with the passing of this new law; what has remained the same (established by PA Act 153); as well as some highlights from our conversation and interpretations of some BSA specific questions we were able to ask and have answered by Secretary Dallas and Undersecretary Utz.
What has CHANGED?
· There is no cost for volunteer clearances (PSP Criminal History and DHS Child Abuse) after July 25, 2015.
· The FBI criminal history clearance (for volunteers who have not been residents of Pennsylvania for the past ten years or residents of other states) is required only once upon establishing residency and when first applying for volunteer service.
· The cost of the FBI criminal history clearance through DHS has been reduced to $25.75 afterJuly 25, 2015.
· Volunteer clearances (PSP Criminal History and DHS Child Abuse) are valid for 60 months.
· Volunteer clearances may be applied for, at no cost to the volunteer, every 57 months.
· Volunteer clearances, provided they have not expired, are transferable to other volunteer positions or agencies.
· Volunteer clearances (PSP Criminal History and DHS Child Abuse) obtained for volunteer purposes may not be used for employment purposes.
· Clearances obtained for employment purposes may also be used for volunteer positions.
· Clearances are NOT required for employees who are administrative or support personnel and do not have direct contact with children.
· A FBI criminal history clearance is NOT required for minor employees between the ages of 14 and 17 if they have lived in the Commonwealth for 10 years and their parent or legal guardian affirms the minor employee has not been convicted of a disqualifying crime. An affidavit may be required.
· Employers or organizations are permitted to accept non-original copies of the required documents from employees and volunteers.
· Volunteers from states outside of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania – individuals who reside in another state or country may serve as a volunteer for no more than 30 days in a calendar year as long as they provide clearances from their state or country of residence. If the individual will be volunteering for more than 30 days, they must obtain clearances as required of a Pennsylvania resident.
· Volunteers who reside in Pennsylvania do not have a provisional period, and must provide clearances when submitting their BSA Adult Application.
What has NOT CHANGED?
· The definition of who is required to apply for and provide clearances.
· Existing employees, those employed prior to January 1, 2015, must secure both clearances (PSP Criminal History and DHS Child Abuse) and their FBI criminal history clearance prior toDecember 31, 2015
· Definitions of child abuse as originally published.
· Requirements of and for Mandated Reporters.
· The compliance deadline for existing volunteers (registered with the BSA prior to August 25, 2015) to secure clearances (and FBI federal criminal history clearance, if required) is July 1, 2016.
· BSA volunteers who are required to apply for an FBI criminal history clearance (those who have NOT resided in Pennsylvania continuously for the past ten years), would apply through the Department of Human Services ($25.75).
· Volunteers who are not required to apply for a FBI criminal history clearance (because they have been residents of Pennsylvania for the previous ten years and are working in an unpaid position) must swear or affirm in writing that they are not barred from volunteering due to a conviction or offense by completing a “Disclosure Statement Application for Volunteers”.
· The renewal date for all certifications is from the date of the oldest certification.
· If a volunteer is arrested for or convicted of an offense that would constitute grounds for denying participation in a program, activity or service, or is named as a perpetrator in a founded or indicated report, the volunteer must provide the administrator or their designee with written notice not later than 72 hours after the arrest, conviction or notification that the person has been listed as a perpetrator in the statewide database.
Department of Human Services Interpretations specific to the Boy Scouts of America:
· Venturers or Explorers - Clearances are NOT required for 18-20-year-old Venturers or Explorers, as they are not volunteers, but program participants (even if these youth are providing leadership to youth under 18 years of age).
· Special Needs Scouts - Clearances are NOT required for special needs Scouts (age 18+) as they are program participants.
· Tiger Cub Adult Partners - Clearances are NOT required for Tiger Cub Adult Partners as they are participating in the BSA program as parents. Clearances ARE required for Tiger Cub Den Leaders.
· Merit Badge Counselors - Clearances ARE REQUIRED for Merit Badge Counselors (with or without parents present).
· Eagle Boards of Review - Clearances are NOT required for community volunteers serving on Eagle Boards of Review.
· Drivers to camps or events – if a parent asks another parent (parent to parent) to drive their child to an event or camp then clearances are NOT required. If however a carpool is organized or drivers are recruited by the unit’s leaders, then clearances ARE REQUIRED.
· Parents helping with fundraisers (Show and Sell and/or store front sales) – if the parent will be or could be responsible for a child other than their own son (or daughter) then clearances ARE REQUIRED.
· Adults who stay occasionally at a meeting to help out – clearances are NOT required unless their participation becomes a weekly occurrence.
· At Cub Scout Pack meetings or day events where parents are attending with their sons - clearances are NOT required of parents as volunteers.
· At events where every Scout must participate with their parent(s) – clearances are NOT required of parents as volunteers.
· At events where Scouts are participating without their parent(s) – clearances ARE REQUIRED of parents as volunteers, as they may be acting in lieu of a parent and will have routine interaction and direct contact with youth.
The best source for updates, forms, and resources related to this newest legislation continues to be:http://keepkidssafe.pa.gov/. Several of the items listed on the “Supporting Documents” tab of the website, while they have been updated since January of this year, have yet to be updated to include the newest changes.
CRITICAL PROCEDURES FOR SECURING CLEARANCE
- REPORT OF CRIMINAL HISTORY FROM THE PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE, AT NO COST.
Go to: https://epatch.state.pa.us
- CHILD ABUSE HISTORY CLEARANCE FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, AT NO COST.
Go to: http://www.compass.state.pa.us/cwis
- FBI FINGERPRINT CHECK, APPROXIMATELY $25.75. IS ONLY REQUIRED IF YOU HAVE NOT LIVED FOR THE IMMEDIATE PAST 10 YEARS OR MORE IN PENNSYLVANIA.
Go to: https://www.pa.cogentid.com/index.htm (Fingerprint location map linked in lower left)
NOTE: IF YOU HAVE LIVED IN PENNSYLVANIA FOR 10 OR MORE CONSECUTIVE YEARS, YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO COMPLETE THE FINGERPRINT CHECK, BUT MUST COMPLETE AND SEND IN A “DISCLOSURE STATEMENT APPLICATION FOR VOLUNTEERS.”
Go To: http://keepkidssafe.pa.gov/supportingdocuments/index/htm
SCOUTERS FROM NEW YORK STATE OR ANY STATE OTHER THAN PENNSYLVANIA, MUST COMPLY WITH THEIR RESPECTIVE STATE’S REQUIREMENTS REGARDING BACKGROUND CHECKS IF THEY WISH TO PARTICIPATE WITH SCOUTS AT ANY EVENT, CAMP, ETC. IN PENNSYLVANIA.
CURRENTLY WE ARE NOT AWARE OF ANY NEW YORK STATE BACKGROUND CHECKS REQUIRED OF SCOUT VOLUNTEERS WORKING WITH YOUTH MEMBERS, BUT THEY OBVIOUSLY MUST HAVE BSA-REQUIRED BACKGROUND CHECKS AND YOUTH PROTECTION TRAINING.
AS OF THIS NOTICE, NON-PA ADULTS IN SCOUTING MAY SPEND UP TO A TOTAL OF 30 DAYS, CUMULATIVELY, PER CALENDAR YEAR, WITHOUT REQUIRING PA BACKGROUND CHECKS.
THE NEW DEFINITIONS OF ABUSE: What is child abuse?
Child abuse, according to the Child Protective Services Law (CPSL,) means intentionally, knowingly or recklessly doing any of the following:
- Causing bodily injury to a child through any recent act or FAILURE to act.
- Fabricating, feigning or intentionally exaggerating or inducing a medical symptom or disease which results in a potentially harmful medical evaluation or treatment to the child through any recent act.
- Causing or substantially contributing to serious mental injury to a child through any act or failure to act or a series of such acts or failures to act.
- Causing sexual abuse or exploitation of a child through any act or failure to act.
- Creating a reasonable likelihood of bodily injury to a child through any recent act or failure to act.
- Creating a likelihood of sexual abuse or exploitation of a child through any recent act or failure to act.
- Causing serious physical neglect of a child.
- Causing the death of a child through any act or failure to act.
Child abuse also includes certain acts in which the act itself constitutes abuse without any resulting injury or condition. These recent acts include any of the following:
- Kicking, biting, throwing, burning, stabbing or cutting a child in a manner that endangers the child.
- Unreasonably restraining or confining a child, based on consideration of the method, location or the duration of the restraint or confinement.
- Forcefully shaking a child under one year of age.
- Forcefully slapping or otherwise striking a child under one year of age.
- Interfering with the breathing of a child.
- Causing a child to be present during the operation of a methamphetamine laboratory, provided that the violation is being investigated by law enforcement.
- Leaving a child unsupervised with an individual, other than the child’s parent, who the parent knows or reasonably should have known was required to register as a Tier II or III sexual offender or has been determined to be a sexually violent predator or sexually violent delinquent.
“Recent” is defined as an abusive act within two years from the date the report is made to Childline. Sexual abuse, serious mental injury, serious physical neglect and deaths have NO time limit.
Mandated reporters are required by law to report suspected child abuse:
- All Scouting volunteers and employees, at all times.
- Mandated Reporter-individuals (paid or unpaid) who accept responsibility for a child as part of a regularly scheduled program, activity or service.
- Persons supervised or managed by a mandated reporter.
- Independent contractors.
Mandatory Reports of Abuse:
- Immediate and direct report of actual or suspected abuse to childline either electronically at https://www.compass.state.pa.us/cwis/public/home or by calling 1-800-932-0313
- Written report (Form CY-47*) to the county children and youth agency within 48 hrs.
- After making the report to Childline, notify Scout Executive Gary Decker 607-742-3590, day or night.
- All must act on any report of arrest or abuse charge while employed or volunteering.
*Form CY-47 can be obtained at www.keepkidssafe.pa.gov or from the children and youth agency. If a report is made electronically, no CY-47 is required to be completed.
Basis for Report:
If reasonable cause to suspect child abuse under any of the following circumstances:
- Mandated reporter comes in contact with youth in course of employment or occupation.
- Mandated reporter is directly responsible, or is affiliated with entity that is directly responsible for child care and supervision.
- A specific disclosure is made to a mandated reporter.
- Self-reporting by person 14 years of age or older to the mandated reporter.
Mandated reporters through capacity as staff of agency must notify person in charge and Scout Executive. The person in charge must cooperate with any investigation.
Helpful Resources: Mandated Reporter FAQ http://keepkidssafe.pa.gov/supportingdocuments/index.htm