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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: June 2, 2015 11:28 AM
From: Representative Madeleine Dean
To: All House members
Subject: Child Abuse Clearance Fee Waivers for Volunteers
In the near future, I will be introducing legislation to allow volunteers to obtain one free criminal background check and one free child abuse clearance every three years.

As you know, Act 153 of 2014 requires incoming and current volunteers who have direct contact with children to obtain a Pennsylvania State Police criminal background check and a Department of Human Services child abuse clearance. Volunteers must obtain new clearances every three years. These newly implemented requirements provide crucial additional safeguards against child abuse. At the same time, because the PSP and DHS both collect a fee to process clearance requests, the requirements can create an additional hurdle for an organization or its volunteers.

This legislation is in response to the many calls from constituents about the unintended burden Act 153 places on organizations that rely upon volunteers. An organization that covers the cost of clearances for its volunteers incurs an additional expense to a budget that may already be tight, while an individual required to pay for their own clearances may choose not to volunteer.

This legislation would allow a volunteer to obtain one free clearance from the PSP and from DHS every three years. If the volunteer requests more than one clearance over the course of three years, they must pay the fee for each additional request. this bill also preserves the existing exemptions for affiliates of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, rape crisis centers, and domestic violence programs.

All across Pennsylvania, volunteers work diligently to improve our Commonwealth and the lives of its citizens. This legislation would ensure that the measures intended to protect our children do not create an undue burden for volunteers and the organizations they serve. Further, it would ensure that the fees associated with clearances do not deter interested individuals from volunteering.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this important legislation.

Introduced as HB515