Background Checks and Clearances for Staff and Volunteers at UUCSV
(updated August 2015)
Beginning January 1, 2015, Pennsylvania put in place new child protection laws. In short, staff and volunteers at UUCSV who have direct contact with and care of children need to be certified with background checks, and also become mandated reporters. At UUCSV this means the minister, the RGL Director, any regular nursery caregivers, and teachers.
This document will answer questions about what to do, when, and how.
All staff and prospective volunteers who have regular contact with children must obtain the following clearances (the law defines a child as anyone under the age of 18):
1. Report of criminal history from the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP); and
2. Child Abuse History Clearance from the Department of Human Services (Child Abuse).
3. A fingerprint-based federal criminal history (FBI) submitted through the Pennsylvania State Police. The FBI clearance is not required if the volunteer has been a Pennsylvania resident continuously for the past 10 years. Volunteers who are not required to obtain the FBI Clearance because they have been a continuous resident of Pennsylvania for the past 10 years must swear or affirm in writing that they are not disqualified from service based upon a conviction of an offense. This will be part of the Disclosure Statement that all volunteers will need to sign. Staff must have an FBI clearance on file, regardless of length of residency.
4. In addition to the clearances, everyone must certify that they have taken a short course about mandatory reporting.
All staff and volunteers will be required to obtain clearances every five (5) years. Volunteers who have applied for clearances, but not yet received notification, will be able to work with RGL classes at the discretion of the RGL director.
How Do I Apply?
The Child Abuse, PSP and FBI clearances can all be applied and paid for electronically. The FBI clearance also requires a fingerprint submission. All necessary instructions and links to apply for these clearances can be found at
http://www.dhs.state.pa.us/findaform/childabusehistoryclearanceforms/index.htm, or you can apply for each individually.
As of July 2015, the PSP and Child Abuse clearances each cost $8 for employees and are free for volunteers; the FBI clearance costs $27.50 through the Department of Human Services. If you would like to have church assistance with the cost of the applications, please talk with either the Treasurer or the RGL Director before you start any application.
1. Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance: https://www.compass.state.pa.us/cwis/public/home
This is the most time-consuming application. First you will need to create a state government online profile (click on “create a new account” when you first start), which will then give you access to your state reports and allow you to transact other unrelated state government business. Then you can start an application. Be prepared with: a history of all the places you have lived since 1976, as well as the names of all the people with whom you lived since 1976. You will also need to enter any name you have ever used.
2. Pennsylvania Criminal Record Checks, through the Pennsylvania State Police: https://epatch.state.pa.us/
To start the process, initiate a New Record Check.
3. Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Criminal Background Checks: www.pa.cogentid.com//index_dpw.htm
The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services is using Cogent Systems to process fingerprint-based FBI criminal background checks. The fingerprint based background check is a multiple step process. One step is the fingerprinting, while the other is the online application.
For a digital fingerprint that can be submitted directly, you need to use a Cogent System partner. In our area, there are two:
The UPS Store (across from Walmart) in Lewisburg; M-F 8:30 to 5, Sat. 9:30 to 3:30
The University Store in Bloomsburg; M-F 8:30 to 4
If you cannot or choose not to use one of these locations, follow the directions on the website above for “How to submit a fingerprint card to 3M Cogent”.
4. Mandatory Reporting certification: https://www.reportabusepa.pitt.edu/webapps/portal/execute/tabs/tabAction?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1
This is a free online course that takes less than three hours, and can be taken in segments. There are others available online, but most are not free. When you are finished, you must print the certificate as proof that you have taken the course. You can print multiple original certificates.
Every staff person and every teacher at UUCSV will have a personnel file kept at the UUCSV offices that will include:
Child Abuse, PSP, and FBI background check clearances, all that are applicable. The original must be provided; the church will make copies of all documentation for the files. The individual keeps the originals, while the church keeps copies.
Certification of Mandatory Reporting training
Disclosure Statement with signatures
Each file will be labeled with the person’s name and the date of their certification expiration. It will be the job of the RGL Director to maintain these files and ensure that clearances are up-to-date.
The files will also be locked; Child Abuse clearance information is confidential and may not be released to other individuals.
Anyone who has completed the training and filed clearances, and works with children in the church, is considered a mandated reporter.
If a mandated reporter suspects abuse it must be reported directly to Child Line. If the report involves a suspected/possible perpetrator connected with the UUCSV or a child connected to UUCSV, the reporter should also notify the RGL Director or the minister. The staff member will notify the Board that a report has been made, but anything related to a child is confidential and identifying details will not be shared.
If a volunteer or staff member is named as a perpetrator in a child abuse investigation, that person must provide the RGL Director with written notice not later than 72 hours after the notification that the person has been named as a suspected perpetrator in an investigation or listed as a perpetrator in the statewide database. The RGL Director will notify the Committee on Ministry and the Board president, in confidence, and the volunteer will be asked to recuse him or herself from contact with children while the investigation is underway.
If the report is unfounded, that will be noted in the person’s file, and the volunteer or staff member can return to the RGL classroom.
If the report is founded, or if a volunteer or staff member is arrested for or convicted of an offense that would constitute grounds for denying participation in a program, activity or service, written notice must be provided to the RGL Director within 24 hours after the arrest, conviction or notification that the person has been listed as a perpetrator in the statewide database. The RGL Director will notify the Committee on Ministry and the Board president and the volunteer or staff member will no longer be able to work with children at the church until his or her record is cleared in the statewide database.
A volunteer or staff member who willfully fails to disclose information as required above commits a misdemeanor of the third degree and shall be subject to discipline up to and including termination or denial of a volunteer or staff position.
– Policy approved by the Board of Trustees, May 17, 2015
(updated to reflect changes in Pennsylania law, August 27, 2015)