Background Check Requirements Have Changed - Understand the Requirements of the Child Protective Services Law

The background checks required for employees include: (1) Report of criminal history record from PA State Police; (2) Certification from the Department of Human Services (DHS) whether named as an alleged perpetrator in pending child abuse investigation or as the perpetrator of a founded or indicated report; and (3) Submitting fingerprints to the FBI to verify identity and obtain current record of arrests and convictions.

The background checks for all volunteers include the PA State Police and Certification from DHS as described above. The submission of fingerprints to the FBI is also required unless: (1) the position of the prospective volunteer is unpaid; and (2) the prospective volunteer has been a resident of PA during the entire preceding 10-year period; and (3) the prospective volunteer swears and affirms that he/she not disqualified from service or convicted of an offense as set forth in the statute.

The effective date of the new background check requirements was December 31, 2014 for employees and new prospective volunteers, and is July 1, 2015 for existing volunteers. Any employee with a current certification issued prior to December 31, 2014 must obtain a certification within 36 months from the date of the most current certification, or if the current certification is older than 36 months, by December 31, 2015. Volunteers with clearances that will be older than 36 months as of July 1, 2015 must obtain clearances by that date. New certifications are required every 36 months.

Although an employer may choose to pay for the cost of certification, the employee or volunteer is responsible for the cost, unless the employer has a reasonable belief that the employee or volunteer was arrested or convicted for an offense that would deny employment or was a named perpetrator in a founded or indicated report, and the employer immediately requires a certification. Fees for child abuse clearances and criminal background checks will be waived for volunteers, not employees, working with children effective July 25, 2015.

It is a misdemeanor of the third degree for the individual charged with securing the certifications for non-compliance with the legal requirements.

The information provided is intended to be a broad overview of 2014 revisions to the PA Child Protective Services Law regarding background checks. If you are interested in discussing with a knowledgeable attorney, please feel free to contact me at 610-323-7464.