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Child Protection Clearances (Act 153)

The Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) requires employees, volunteers and other individuals who interact with minors to obtain three different clearances, together known as the Child Protection Clearances:

  • Pennsylvania Access to Criminal History (PATCH) through the Pennsylvania State Police
  • Pennsylvania Child Abuse History (PACA) through the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services
  • FBI Criminal History Background Check (FBI Fingerprint); requires the individual to submit their fingerprints to the FBI and have the background check run through the PA State Police’s designated agencies

The CPSL requires that certifications, including FBI fingerprinting, be renewed every 60 months (five years).


Who Requires Clearances?

Employees with direct contact with minors as part of their position are required to have valid clearances.

The Office of Human Resources completes regular status checks for employees who require clearances, and contacts those who are missing required documents or whose documents are set to expire. Once you have been notified by Human Resources that you need to update your clearances, you will have four weeks to come into compliance. 

Failure to complete these screenings within the given timeframe will result in you being placed on unpaid leave for up to two weeks. If by that time you have not completed all required clearances and fingerprints, your employment will be terminated without additional notice. 


Obtaining Child Protective Clearances

Individuals requiring Child Protection Clearances will be contacted by the Office of Human Resources and provided with the necessary instructions and payment codes to obtain the required clearances. Please note:

  • While the Office of Human Resources facilitates the application process for Swarthmore College affiliates, the clearances are background checks that are completed by the state and facilitated through a third-party vendor, First Contact HR. The College does not control the timeframe for clearances or the application process.
  • All Child Protection Clearances must be designated for employment. Swarthmore College does not accept volunteer clearances if your employment at Swarthmore College involves interacting with minors.
  • FBI results must be issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services. An FBI background check issued by the Department of Education is not permissible for employment purposes.
  • Individuals are required to have all three clearances; residency exemptions are not permitted.

The FBI Criminal History Background Check requires individuals to complete fingerprinting at an approved vendor (Identogo) location. An appointment is required; Identogo locations do not accept walk-ins for fingerprinting. This process will be initiated by vendor, First Contact HR, who will provide the individual with approved Identogo locations. See the section on How to Obtain and Submit Clearances which outlines this process in detail.

Note: Identogo fingerprinting can only be used within Pennsylvania. Applicants obtaining Child Protective Clearances out of state will be provided with alternate application instructions.  If completing Child Protection Clearances outside of Pennsylvania, the timeframe for completion may vary due to the complexity of out-of-state procedures.

Transferring Existing Child Protection Clearances

Child Protection Clearances are valid for 60 months (five years). If an individual obtains Child Protection Clearances outside of Swarthmore College through the Department of Human Services for employment purposes, it may be possible to transfer those clearances if the following requirements are satisfied:​

  • Valid and applicable Child Protection Clearances were acquired within 365 calendar days of the date of submission.
  • All clearances are designated for employment. Clearances designated for volunteering are not permissible for employment purposes.
  • The FBI background check is issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.

If the clearances meet the requirements, the individual will need to sign a Disclosure Statement in support of certification transfer. This form will be provided by the Office of Human Resources upon review of existing clearances for acceptability.

Steps to Obtain and Submit Clearances

  1. Employees will be contacted by Human Resources to initiate the process through First Contact HR.
  2. Employees must complete the online application form and submit. 
  3. Employees will receive email communications from the vendor, First Contact HR, to initiate the Child Abuse History Clearance and the FBI Fingerprint Service. These emails will include payment codes and instructions for arranging the fingerprint appointment.
  4. Human Resources will access the completed PATCH and PA Child Abuse reports. The FBI report will be sent directly to the employee by either mail or email. Please note: If you receive results via email, they will be sent from the email address: The results message is only able to be opened once. Please download the report and submit to as a PDF or JPEG and keep a copy for your file. External links such as Google Drive will not be accepted.
  5. Human Resources will confirm that the employee is in good standing once all clearances have been received.