Pennsylvania Child Protection Laws – January 1, 2015

On December 31, 2014, several changes to Pennsylvania’s child protection standards went into effect. Brotherhood Mutual is providing the following information about these standards—we recommend consulting a locally licensed attorney or appropriate state agencies for more specific information.

Background Checks

Generally, Pennsylvania requires three types of background checks for those who work directly with minors as part of their employment/volunteer duties:

  1. Pennsylvania State Police criminal history record
  2. Child abuse history clearance
  3. Federal criminal history record information, with a full set of fingerprints


Beginning July 25, 2015, the fees associated with checks #1 and 2 have been waived for volunteer applicants.

All background checks must be updated every 60 months. To learn more about the details of what’s required of different types of volunteers and employees, see the following fact sheets from the Department of Human Services:

You can initiate these background checks on a self-serve basis via the Web links listed above. If your ministry is looking to ease the administrative burden involved with a background screening program, private background screening firms may be able to help. To the best of our knowledge, screening firms can perform only two of the three required background checks on behalf of a ministry. Your ministry or the employee/volunteer must initiate the federal criminal history record check.

Even if a volunteer applicant is not required to complete the state-mandated federal check, consider obtaining a national criminal history check through a background screening provider. Be sure to work with a reputable background screening company.

Although only employees and volunteers who have direct contact with children are required by Pennsylvania law to undergo background checks, we strongly suggest all prospective employees undergo a background check, regardless of the position they are applying for. Employees generally have greater access to the physical locations where children, youth and vulnerable adults will be present. Employees also enjoy a higher degree of trust from volunteers and others within the various ministries of the ministry. Thus, it is important to minimize the possibility that any employee of the ministry poses a threat or risk of harm to children, youth or vulnerable adults.

For additional information about background screening, visit Brotherhood Mutual’s background screening resources.

Disqualifying Offenses

When a background check reveals that an applicant has a history of certain criminal conduct, it’s critical to understand which types of conduct disqualify a person from working with minors. A number of the disqualifying offenses are listed on page 3 of this Children’s Justice & Advocacy Report. Consult with a locally licensed attorney to verify the accuracy of this list and to learn whether there have been any recent changes to the list.

It is important that every employee and volunteer know these disqualifying offenses. If a current employee or volunteer is arrested for, or convicted of, any of these disqualifying offenses, he or she must submit a written report to the ministry’s designated contact no later than 72 hours after the arrest, conviction, or notification that he or she has been listed as a perpetrator in the statewide database. An employee or volunteer that fails to self-report within 72 hours commits a misdemeanor.

Mandated Reporting

Among others, people in the following positions are defined as mandated reporters:

  • Clergy members, including ministers and other spiritual leaders.
  • An individual, paid or unpaid, who, on the basis of the individual’s role as an integral part of a regularly scheduled program, activity or service, accepts responsibility for a child.

See the “Frequently Asked Questions” section on for a list of some positions that are considered mandated reporters, as well as an overview of how to make a report.

To make a report, mandated reporters must take the following steps:

  1. Make an immediate and direct report of suspected child abuse to ChildLine either online or by calling 1-800-932-0313.
  2. Immediately notify the person in charge of the institution, school, facility or agency, or the designated agent of the person in charge.
  3. Submit a written report within 48 hours of a verbal report, using form CY 47. If the initial report was made online, this written report is not necessary.

For more information about Pennsylvania’s mandated reporting requirements, see this resource from the Department of Human Services.

Some mandated reporters are required by law to undergo training on how to recognize and report abuse. Even when this training is not legally required, it's critical that you train your ministry personnel to follow proper procedures. For more information about training, see

More Information/Questions features additional helpful information about the law. You can also review the Pennsylvania statute, 23 Pa. C.S. § 6344.

Contact a locally licensed attorney or appropriate state agencies for more specific information about these standards.