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How Will the New Child Protective Services Bill Affect Cultural Nonprofits?

On July 1 Governor Wolf signed into law an amendment to the Child Protective Services Law that seeks to clarify and make more explicit provisions in the statute that require volunteers who work with children to obtain child abuse clearances and criminal history checks.

Key provisions of this new law include: 

  • Changing the definition of “direct contact” to mean that an individual provides care, supervision, guidance or control of children; AND has routine interaction with children. The current definition in law uses the word “or” instead of “and.” Changing the definition will significantly narrow the universe of individuals who are required to obtain the background checks.


  • Adding a definition for the term “routine interaction,” defining that term as “regular, repeated, and continual contact that is integral to a person’s employment or volunteer responsibilities."


  • Extending the deadline for compliance from July 1 to August 25, 2015.

  • Permitting volunteers who are residents of the Commonwealth but have not resided in Pennsylvania for the entirety of the previous 10-year period to obtain the required FBI criminal history background check only once upon establishing residency. Current law requires those individuals to obtain an FBI background check clearance every three years until they reach 10 consecutive years of residency in the Commonwealth.


  • Exempting minor employees (ages 14 to 17) from obtaining the FBI criminal history background check if the minor has been a resident of the Commonwealth for the previous 10-year period and the minor and the minor’s legal guardian affirm that the minor is not disqualified from serving in the position under the list of prohibited offenses in existing law.


  • Making the portability/transferability of the background check clearances applicable to employees who are employed in more than one paid position in which they work directly with children, just as those clearances are portable/transferable for volunteers volunteering for multiple organizations under current law. Current law requires employees to obtain separate sets of clearances for each paid position they hold.

For more information on the new law, click here.  

Additionally, starting on July 25, 2015, fees for child abuse clearances and criminal background checks will be waived for volunteers working with children. Additionally, the Department of Human Services and Pennsylvania State Police will be reducing the cost of both child abuse and criminal history record checks from $10 to $8 for all other applicants.