The Pennsylvania General Assembly amended the Child Protective Services Law (the CPSL) several times. The most recent changes were through Act 153 to require all school employees, contractors and volunteers having direct contact with children to obtain new clearances (child abuse history clearance and state and federal criminal history checks) every 60 months.
- New volunteers must have clearances, dated within the past 60 months (5 years), to be approved for their position.
- Under Act 15 of 2015 (the Act), which amends the provisions of the Child Protective Services Law, volunteers who are responsible for the child’s welfare or who have “direct volunteer contact” with children at a school— meaning the care, supervision, guidance, or control of children and routine interaction with children will be required to have background checks. The Act clarifies that “routine interaction” means “regular and repeated contact that is integral to a person’s employment or volunteer responsibilities.”
PDE’s view is that mere visitors are not normally required to obtain background checks to the extent that such visitors are not responsible for a child’s welfare or are visiting the school irregularly and not providing for the care, supervision, guidance, or control of children. Some examples of situations where such visitors normally would not be required to have background checks would include but are not limited to: Back-to -School nights, parent/teacher conferences, school assemblies, school concerts, assisting with school birthday parties, parent guest readers, chaperones for field trips and dances (so long as not routine or responsible for the child’s welfare), Halloween parades, collecting tickets to sporting events, working concession stands, participating in “Career Day,” Etc. In this capacity, school visitors do not need the clearances. By contrast, persons who are responsible for the child’s welfare or who wish to visit the school regularly to serve as volunteers and to provide for the care, supervision, guidance or control of children would be required to have background checks. Some examples of persons needing background checks would include but not be limited to regular classroom volunteer assistants, recess and library volunteers, and volunteer coaches/club advisors.
VOLUNTEER FBI BACKGROUND CHECK
All school volunteers must now obtain a volunteer Service Code from the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS). This change is in response to a bulletin issued by DHS that indicates all individuals governed by the Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) must obtain clearances through DHS. This change includes all public, private, and nonpublic school volunteers. To obtain a volunteer Service Code, individuals must contact DHS directly at 1-877-371-5422 or [email protected]