Act 153 FAQ's
Act 153- New PA Background Screening Requirements and Mandatory Child Abuse Reporting
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is Act 153 and why was it enacted?
The Pennsylvania state legislature sought to strengthen protections for children in the PA Child Protective Services Law (CPSL). It went into effect on Dec. 31, 2014, and now requires colleges and universities to obtain, as it has for K-12 employees for several years, background clearances for any individuals having routine interaction with children at the college or in a college-sponsored program, activity, or service. This requirement applies to college employees, volunteers, independent contractors, and students. The CPSL also requires mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse directly to the PA Department of Human Services.
- What is the background screening process?
You will receive a background-screening packet, which includes a:
- Notice of Consent Form: Completion of this form will allow the Office of Human Resources to conduct your PA Criminal History and/or the FBI Fingerprinting registration.
- Results of the PA Criminal History is generally instantaneous.
- FBI Fingerprinting: Within 24 hours of processing, you will receive an email with a PDF of the FBI fingerprinting receipt and a list of approved fingerprinting locations. Your FBI fingerprinting receipt and state issued ID can be taken to one of the locations on the list to have your electronic fingerprints processed. For your convenience, Human Resources will offer opportunities for FBI fingerprinting on-campus during the Spring 2015 semester.
- PA Child Abuse History & Waiver: The Child Abuse History Clearance can be submitted electronically or via paper applications.
- To complete the clearance online, please contact Zenobia Hargust for a payment code. Step-by-step directions will also be provided. Results can be available within an hour.
- To complete the clearance via a paper application, the original signed forms must be returned to Human Resources along with the Waiver for submission to ChildLine. Paper application results can take up to 6 weeks to receive.
- How much history will the background check cover?
Any conviction history that is prohibited by the Child Protective Services Law will be considered during the background check assessment, regardless of when the conviction occurred (such as child abuse, kidnapping, rape, homicide, etc.).
- Who will be required to participate in the background screening process?
All college employees, volunteers, and independent contractors are required to complete criminal, child abuse, and FBI clearances. In addition, the College is still evaluating the many ways in which students work with children in college-sponsored programs. A screening process for the students impacted by this law will be forthcoming.
- If I do not have routine interaction with minors in my position, why do I need to participate in the background screening process?
The College admits approximately 50 minors as students each year and minors are regularly a part of our college community. In addition to enrolled students, external minors participate in a wide variety of programs on campus throughout the year. As a result of the recent changes to the requirements of the PA Child Protective Services law, the College requires these clearances for all employees, to ensure full legal compliance.
- Who will cover the cost of the background screens?
The College will cover the full cost of obtaining these clearances. For your convenience, the College will also provide on-campus opportunities to complete these required clearances.
- As a non-PA resident, do I also need clearances from my state of residence?
At this time, PA law only requires PA child abuse, PA criminal and FBI clearances. It does not require non-residents to obtain clearances from any other states.
- How will these requirements affect international employees?
At this time, PA law only requires PA child abuse, PA criminal and FBI clearances. It does not require international employees to obtain clearances from any other regions.
- As a current employee, what if a a report of child abuse or a criminal record is found during this process?
Not all child abuse reports or criminal records will lead to a college response. The PA Child Protective Services law only concerns founded reports of child abuse that has occurred within the previous five years and convictions of a specific list[i] of crimes deemed by the State to bar work with children. If a background screen reveals a founded child abuse report or a conviction of one of the listed crimes, then you will be contacted and given a copy of the record. You will also be given a reasonable opportunity to explain or correct the record. Human Resources will work with you and your supervisor to determine if the conviction has any impact on your work with the College. You will be kept informed of the review process and your record will be kept confidential.
- If I have already completed required background screens, can I submit copies of required clearances?
At this time, we can accept original clearances from external sources that are dated within 3 months.
- Will I receive a copy of my clearances?
You will receive unofficial copies of FBI and PA Child Abuse clearances directly from the governmental agency. A copy of the PA Criminal clearance can be requested through Human Resources.
- Who at the College will have access to my records?
Human Resources will manage the background screening process and will keep the background clearance records separate from employee personnel files. Your managers will not be given access to your background clearance records.
- How soon will the background check process begin?
The PA Child Protective Services Law took effect on December 31, 2014. The College has already begun the process of obtaining the required clearances from new faculty and staff members; you can expect to receive your packet in the coming months. The College is required to obtain the clearances from current faculty and staff members by December 31, 2015. Human Resources will conduct the clearances by department in order based on the department’s current work with minors or access to minors on campus.
- What will happen if I refuse to take part in the background check process, and do I have any options?
This requirement is not optional. In order to comply with PA law, the College is requiring that all faculty, staff, and volunteers participate in the background screening process. Your full participation in obtaining the required clearances is a condition for continued employment with the College, Any College administrator that willfully fails to require the clearances from an individual is subject to be charged with a misdemeanor.
- How often will these background checks be required?
By law, the clearances are required to be obtained every three years. Human Resources will facilitate the background screening renewal process on an ongoing basis.
- Will volunteers and contractors be required to get clearances?
Yes. Human Resources will coordinate with volunteer applicants to obtain the required clearances by July 1, 2015.
Volunteers who have been a Pennsylvania resident continuously for the past 10 years do not have to complete the fingerprint based FBI check.
Any entities contracting with the College that will have direct contact with children will be required to provide assurances that they have complied with PA law by obtaining required clearances and appropriate training for their workers.
- Under this new legislation, am I expected to do anything in addition to background screenings?
In addition to background screening, you now must inform Human Resources within 72 hours if you are arrested. Failure to do so will be cause for disciplinary action, up to and including termination. Also, a failure to report certain criminal arrests might be a misdemeanor in the state of Pennsylvania. You must report child abuse you have reasonable cause to suspect.
[i] The list of PA Child Protective Services Law’s disqualifying crimes under Title 18 of Pennsylvania law (or their federal equivalent or the equivalent from another state) are as follows:
- Chapter 25 (relating to criminal homicide)
- Section 2702 (relating to aggravated assault)
- Section 2709.1 (relating to stalking)
- Section 2901 (relating to kidnapping)
- Section 2902 (relating to unlawful restraint)
- Section 3121 (relating to rape)
- Section 3122.1 (relating to statutory sexual assault)
- Section 3123 (relating to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse)
- Section 3124.1 (relating to sexual assault)
- Section 3125 (relating to aggravated indecent assault)
- Section 3126 (relating to indecent assault)
- Section 3127 (relating to indecent exposure)
- Section 4302 (relating to incest)
- Section 4303 (relating to concealing death of child)
- Section 4304 (relating to endangering welfare of children)
- Section 4305 (relating to dealing in infant children)
- A felony offense under section 5902(b) (relating to prostitution and related offenses)
- Section 5903(c) or (d) (relating to obscene and other sexual materials and performances)
- Section 6301 (relating to corruption of minors)
- Section 6312 (relating to sexual abuse of children)
- The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device, and Cosmetic Act (P.L. 22, No. 64) (committed within the previous five years)