|Posted:||February 24, 2015 04:11 PM|
|From:||Representative Dan Truitt|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||Eliminating Fees for Background Checks for Volunteers|
|Last year, the General Assembly passed several pieces of important legislation to better protect the children of our Commonwealth against abuses of many forms. Among them was HB-435 which became Act 153 of 2014 that, among other things, expanded the background check requirements for anyone who would be working with children. This was good legislation that should at least serve to prevent anyone with a questionable past from getting into a position where they could abuse (more) children.
As the law stands today, the person whose background is being checked is ultimately responsible for the cost of the background checks. The organization that will employ that person may choose to reimburse those expenses, but, may not. This applies to paid employees as well as volunteers and this is where we are encountering an unfortunate side-effect of this critical new law. Organizations that rely heavily on volunteers are expecting to lose many of their volunteers who are willing to give their time and submit to background checks, but, don’t want to pay for them. One organization in Chester County alone is estimating that they will lose hundreds of volunteers.
Volunteers in our schools and our non-profits save our state a lot of money and we should do everything possible to avoid discouraging good volunteers, who are not a danger to children, from giving their time to enhance the education and development of our youth.
So, in the near future, I will introduce legislation prohibiting the Pennsylvania State Police and the Department of Human Services from charging a fee for background checks for volunteers. Yes, this will come at a cost to the Commonwealth, but, if we do nothing, I believe that this cost will be more than matched by the value of the lost volunteer time.
I hope that you will join me in sponsoring this legislation. A draft copy of the bill is attached.
Introduced as HB711