PA Volunteer Background Clearance Information
(Approved by the Washington Crossing Council Executive Board 9/16/2015.)
In 2015, two laws that impact how volunteers obtain clearances were implemented. The first law, PA Act 153, was signed by Governor Tom Corbett in 2014 and in force as of December 31, 2014. The second law, PA Act 15 of 2015, was signed by Governor Tom Wolf and in force on August 25, 2015 (superseding portions of PA Act 153).
As with any youth organization in Pennsylvania, the law has a direct impact on Scouting volunteers as it requires them to obtain background clearances to volunteer with our council. It is important to note that while the Boy Scouts of America conducts background checks on its own, because they are performed by a third party service, they do not meet the requirements as prescribed in the law.
What clearances are needed?
Depending on the individual, volunteers in our council may be required to obtain between two and three clearances. The three clearances are as follows:
Pennsylvania State Police Criminal Background Check
All volunteers needing clearances under the law shall be required to obtain a criminal background check run by the Pennsylvania State Police. This background check is free to all volunteers as of July 25, 2015. (No need to register, just click on the yellow box.)
Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Child Abuse Clearance
All volunteers needing clearances under the law shall be required to obtain a child abuse clearance from the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services. This background check is free to all volunteers as of July 25, 2015. (You will need to register for an account on the site.)
Federal Bureau of Investigation Fingerprint-Based Background Check
Volunteers needing clearances under the law that have lived in the state of Pennsylvania for less than ten consecutive years (including the current year) must obtain a fingerprint-based FBI Background Check. This background check carries a $27.50 fee, but must only be obtained once provided you continue to live in the state of Pennsylvania. You must register and pay before you visit the fingerprinting site (note that some may require that you call ahead to register for an appointment).
- Visit https://www.identogo.com/locations/pennsylvania
- Click on “Digital Fingerprinting.” On the next screen, enter the Service Code, which is: 1KG6ZJ.
- Click on Schedule or Manage Appointment.
- Click on Locate an Enrollment Center first to find the location for providing your fingerprints that is closest to you, then go back to the Schedule an Appointment option. The company is continuing to add new fingerprinting locations.
- Follow the prompts for completing the required information and printing the registration form to take to the fingerprinting location.
Volunteers that have lived in the state of Pennsylvania for the last ten consecutive years are exempt from this check, but must complete an affidavit affirming such: PA Volunteer Clearance Affidavit
Who must obtain clearances?
The PA Department of Human Services has offered specific guidance to councils regarding to whom these laws apply. The following is a list that, while not comprehensive, provides examples of who must apply for the clearances and who does not have to complete them.
Clearances ARE required for:
- Direct contact leaders
- Merit Badge Counselors
- Drivers to camps and events when it is an organized carpool
- Parents that supervise more than their child at Show and Sell or storefront sales
- Ockanickon Scout Reservation Campmasters
- Parents volunteering at events that may be acting in loco parentis and have direct contact with youth
- Example: Committee members volunteering as adult leaders on camping trips, Chartered Organization Representatives volunteering at a unit fundraiser, etc.
- Non-registered parents who act as direct contact leaders