The General Assembly passed and, on July 1, 2015, Governor Wolf signed into law House Bill 1276 (Printer’s # 1997) which is designed to clarify aspects of child protection legislation passed in 2014 specifically as they relate to criminal history background certifications for employees and volunteers.
Of particular interest to PaLA members, this new law (Act 15 of 2015) makes important changes to define which adult volunteers and which employees in higher education are required to obtain clearances. In addition, the new law:
- extends and thus standardizes the length of time allowed before recertification so that all clearances last for five years instead of three;
- allows for the transfer of certifications for individuals changing employers; and,
- affirms in law Governor Wolf’s earlier action to waive or reduce state fees for certain background checks.
As Rep. Kathy Watson, chair of the House Children and Youth Committee notes, ”Under the new law, volunteers must obtain the clearances if they have direct volunteer contact, meaning that they have care, supervision, guidance or control and routine interaction with children. This is the standard that will apply to determining whether an adult volunteer must get the background checks.” (emphasis added)
To be perfectly clear—this change applies to volunteers only. The background check standard under the law as it relates to employees remains as is.
As to the new law’s impact on higher education, please read more here.
As to the new law’s affect on fees and deadlines, please read more here.
A copy of House Bill 1276 as passed may be found here.
A copy of the House Appropriations Committee’s Fiscal Note describing the bill may be found here.
A copy of the press release from Chairwoman Watson may be found here.
Finally, all of the changes in the law are expected to be reflected soon in an update on the PA Department of Human Services’ website—Keep Kids Safe PA: http://www.keepkidssafe.pa.gov/index.htm