Effective December 31, 2014, a new child protection law went into effect in Pennsylvania. It is known as the Child Protective Services Law. Some of the main points of the law pertain to background checks and mandatory reporters of child abuse.
Most of all our insureds with Brotherhood Mutual have some form of sexual acts coverage on their policy. The minimum limit is $50,000 and can be purchased up to $1,000,000. We extend coverage to physical and emotional allegations. We cover judgments and defense even if found guilty.
I would review your current youth programs to assure you have what limit best suits your needs.
In general, employees and volunteers who work (or apply to work) in direct contact with children and youth will be required to submit documentation from the following background checks every 36 months:
1. Pennsylvania State Police criminal record information
2. Child abuse history certified by the state police as to whether the person is named as an alleged perpetrator in a pending child abuse investigation, or a perpetrator of an indicated or founded child abuse report
3. Federal criminal history record information, with a full set of fingerprints
Volunteers who have lived in Pennsylvania continuously for the last 10 years are not required to undergo #3, as long as they affirm in writing that they have not been convicted of a felony or sex crime within the previous five years.
It appears that checks #1 and 2 may be performed by a private background screening firm; #3 must be obtained through the CogentID website. If your ministry is looking for a background screening provider, Brotherhood Mutual feels comfortable working with SafeHiring Solutions.
To learn when the required background checks must be completed, see this resource from the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.
The new law clarifies and expands the individuals who are mandatory reporters of child abuse. People in the following positions will be defined as mandatory reporters:
Clergy members, including ministers and other spiritual leaders
An individual, paid or unpaid, including volunteers 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. These individuals include those serving at youth camps or programs, sports or athletic programs, outreach programs, enrichment programs, troops, clubs, and similar organizations.
Mandatory reporters must make an immediate and direct report of suspected child abuse to ChildLine either electronically at www.compass.state.pa.us/cwis or by calling 1-800-932-0313. After making the report to ChildLine, the reporter is required to immediately thereafter notify the person in charge of the institution, school, facility or agency or the designated agent of the person in charge.
Date for Compliance
Current employees with clearances older than three years as of Dec. 31, 2014, must get new ones within one year of Dec. 31, 2014 (i.e., no later than Dec. 31, 2015). Current clearances that are less than three years old will expire at the three-year anniversary, and those employees will need to get them before that anniversary, even if that means earlier than Dec. 31, 2015.
Effective Dec. 31, 2014, new volunteers must have clearances in order to be approved for their positions. Effective July 1, 2015, existing volunteers who do not already have clearances and those volunteers with clearances that will be more than three years old must obtain the required clearances.
For more information, see this guide from the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services. While we are happy to provide this information, which we believe to be accurate, to assist your risk management efforts, we recommend directing questions about this new law to a locally licensed attorney.
I am sure there will be other vendors who will be able to assist you in the checks, this is just a reference. Although this information was given to you as a guide, it is subject to change, or we may have missed something.
We always suggest you seek legal counsel to assure you are in complete compliance. I am available to each and all of you to help. So please call 1-800-447-2344 or email us.