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Background Checks

UPDATE TO PA CHILD PROTECTION LAWS AFFECTING CLERGY, CHURCH EMPLOYEES, AND VOLUNTEERS

PASTORS and CONGREGATION LEADERS: Please note that Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania continues to update their website to reflect the most recent updates in the laws regarding background checks and the protection of children. Refer to the "Child Protection and Welfare" section of their website for the most recent information, available HERE. 

1. BACKGROUND CHECKS

On October 22, Governor Corbett signed into law House Bill 435, now known as Act 153. Starting in July 2015, the bill will require church volunteers who come into contact with youth and children to file criminal background checks and child abuse clearances with the congregation. Read the bill here.

2. MANDATED REPORTER UPDATE

 Pennsylvania has clarified and expanded its list of who is a mandated reporter in the commonwealth. Read the entire list in the document below. Mandated reporters in the new law include:
• A clergyman, priest, rabbi, minister, Christian Science practitioner, religious healer or spiritual leader of any regularly established church or other religious organization.
NOTE: Section 6311.1 (b) include the “following protections” (1) “Confidential communications made to a member of the clergy are protected under 42 Pa.C.S. § 5943 (relating to confidential communications to clergymen).
• An individual paid or unpaid, who, on the basis of the individual’s role as an integral part of a regularly scheduled program, activity or service, accepts responsibility for a child. NOTE: A program, activity or service is defined as the following: A public or private educational, athletic or other pursuit in which children participate. The term includes, but is not limited to, the following:
• A youth camp or program
• A recreational camp or program
• A sports or athletic program
• An outreach program
• An enrichment program
• A troop, club or similar organization

LIST OF MANDATED REPORTERS:  

Mandated Reporters List Mandated Reporters List (179 KB)

Read the entire Act 31 Of 2014.

Required background checks include:

1. PA State Police Criminal History Record Information ($10 cost).

2. Child Abuse History certified by the department as to whether the person is named as a perpetrator of an indicated or founded child abuse report ($10 cost).

3. Federal Criminal History Background Check (with submission of fingerprints at a cost of $28.75). FBI checks will not be required for volunteers if they have been a resident of the Commonwealth for the prior 10 years.

Here is a recent article from the Patriot News that summarizes new background check requirements for volunteers. Serious felonies and most types of sex crimes would automatically disqualify volunteers, along with any reports of child abuse or drug law convictions from the previous five years. All clean checks are good for three years, after which they must be renewed.

 Once again, for information on training and reporting resources, refer to LAMPa's Child Protection and Welfare Page, HERE.