New PA Child Protection Law Will Expand Clearance Requirements

DECEMBER 15, 2014

Thinking about a career in education? Want to coach your kid’s little league team? Be a PTA volunteer? Then you need to know about a new Pennsylvania law that expands the requirements for background checks.

Starting Dec. 31, the new state child protective services law goes into effect, and it requires (among other things) that school volunteers, employees and independent contractors who are in direct contact with children must have updated clearances every three years.

Outgoing Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican who in November lost his re-election bid, signed the measure – which was composed of 10 different bills – into law last December.

In a press release the day he signed the bills into law, Corbett said, “I thank the General Assembly for their work in passing the first pieces of a comprehensive legislative package to protect Pennsylvania’s children.”

He added: “The legislation I’m signing today will better equip our communities to protect children, and enhance the safety and security of the commonwealth’s children.”

For those who are not aware, or who have never had to submit to a background check, there are actually three different types: child abuse clearances, state police clearances and Federal Bureau of Investigations – and both school employees and independent contractors working at a school must submit these before working.

There are slightly different requirements for volunteers, though, who need only submit child abuse and state police background checks in most instances.

It should be noted, however, that school districts may choose to require their volunteers to get all clearances.

Why does this matter to you? Because if you have an criminal charges on your record, they could make it difficult for you to do things such as volunteer at your child’s holiday party or coach his softball team.

But in many cases, minor offenses that are classified as a summary offense can be expunged – the legal process by which criminal charges are erased from the system.

So if you have, say, a disorderly conduct, underage drinking or other minor crime, and you are considering a career that would require clearances, you should contact a quality criminal defense lawyer to see if anexpungement is possible.

It could make the entire hiring process easier for you.