Signing House Bill 1276 into law Wednesday, Gov. Tom Wolf aided in bringing clarity to legislation enacted last year that requires additional, periodic background checks for both employees and volunteers who are directly involved with children.
HB 1276 will help organizations better establish which individuals working with children need to have background clearance. The new law requires adult volunteers to obtain clearance if they have direct volunteer contact, meaning that they have care, supervision, guidance or control and routine interaction with children.
The clarification allows for less frequent recertification, obligating individuals to recertify every five years instead of three. Simplifications were made with respect to the cost, portability and renewing of two main clearances: Department of Human Services child abuse clearance and state police criminal background check. The two $10 fees are now waived for volunteers and reduced to $8 each for employees. Those employed at higher education institutions will be exempt in most cases.
Additionally, yesterday’s deadline for obtaining clearance has been extended to August 25. The DHS website provides more information at KeepKidsSafe.pa.gov.
While the new law establishes minimum requirements, it does not prohibit organizations from setting more stringent internal policies.
“Our overall intent with the specific background clearance part of the child protection package was to help ensure that those who work or volunteer around our children do not have a history of abusing children,” said Rep. Kathy Watson (R-Bucks/144th), author of the legislation.
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