Overview – Pennsylvania Act 153 Pertaining to Volunteers
In October 2014, Governor Corbett signed PA Act 153 into law. This legislation is designed to increase the safety of children by requiring background checks and child abuse clearances for all volunteers and staff who are responsible for children. This law impacts all organizations that serve youth and also includes strengthened mandatory reporting requirements for adult volunteers and staff.
What are the criteria for clearances?
Adults who are currently unpaid volunteers, or are applying to be unpaid volunteers with the following responsibilities:
- Acting in lieu of, or on behalf of a parent by providing care, supervision, guidance, or control of children, or…
- Having regular, ongoing contact with children that is integral to their volunteer responsibilities.
Special Note: The PA Department of Human Services has provided the following interpretations specific to the Boy Scouts of America:
Clearances Are Required for the following situations:
- All Registered Leaders – Clearances ARE REQUIRED for all Registered Leaders in Hawk Mountain Council.
- Merit Badge Counselors – Clearances ARE REQUIRED for Merit Badge Counselors (with or without parents present).
- Drivers to camps or events (Unit Organized) – If 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.
- 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.
Clearances Are Not Required for the following situations:
- 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).
- Scouts with Special Needs – 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.
- Eagle Boards of Review – Clearances are not required for community volunteers serving on Eagle Boards of Review.
- Drivers to camps or events (Parent to Parent) – if a parent asks another parent (parent to parent) to drive their son to an event or camp then clearances are not 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.
What clearances are required?
Volunteers who meet any of the above criteria must have the following clearances:
- Pennsylvania State Police Criminal History (There is no cost to obtain this clearance for non-profit volunteers working with children). – https://epatch.pa.gov/home
- Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Child Abuse Clearance (There is no cost to obtain this clearance for non-profit volunteers working with children). – https://www.compass.state.pa.us/CWIS
- FBI Fingerprint-based Criminal History Clearance or the Volunteer Disclosure Statement (See below)
FBI Fingerprint Based Criminal History Clearance
a) For those who have not lived in Pennsylvania for at least the past ten consecutive years use this link – www.identogo.com/locations/pennsylvania – and then follow the steps below.
i) Click on “Digital Fingerprinting.” On the next screen, enter the Service Code, which is: 1KG6ZJ.
ii) Click on Schedule or Manage Appointment.
iii) Click on Locate an Enrollment Center first to find the location for providing your fingerprints, Which is closest to you, then go back to the Schedule an Appointment option. The company is continuing to add new fingerprinting locations.
iv) Follow the prompts for completing the required information and printing the registration form to take to the fingerprinting location.
b) For those who have lived in Pennsylvania for at least the past ten consecutive years, please complete the Volunteer Disclosure statement by clicking the download below.
HMC Disclosure Background Check Form (PA Residency Waiver).
Where do I submit my clearances once I have them?
Please Note: This is a new process, please read the directions prior to accessing the Clearance Portal
(Due to the potential for sensitive information, we cannot accept submissions via fax.)
Each of the clearances and the disclosure form must be renewed every five years.
Additional information can be found at KEEP KIDS SAFE PA