Background clearance requirements for interaction with minors in youth programs

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — On July 1, 2015, Gov. Tom Wolf signed House Bill 1276 into law as Act 15, amending Pennsylvania’s Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) and the requirements for working in youth programs in Pennsylvania.

All employees who have direct contact with children — the care, supervision, guidance or routine interaction with children — and volunteers who have direct contact with children — the care, supervision, guidance or control of children and routine interaction with children — are required to obtain the following clearances:

  • Pennsylvania State Police Criminal Background Check (SP4-164)
  • Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance Form (CY-113)
  • Federal (FBI) Fingerprint Criminal Background Check (Criminal History Report)

CPSL now allows clearances to be transferred in most instances between organizations. This includes employment to employment; volunteer to volunteer; and employment to volunteer. However, clearances are not transferable from volunteer to employment. 

Human Resources representatives or hiring managers will notify prospective employees about the background clearances needed for positions.

Other changes include: clearances are valid for five years, a longer period of time than previously; and two of the three clearances required for volunteers are now free.

Additionally, in some instances, volunteers will only be required to obtain two of the three clearances. There now is no need for a volunteer to obtain the FBI clearance if:

  • The position the prospective volunteer is applying for is unpaid;
  • The prospective volunteer has been a resident of the Commonwealth during the entirety of the previous 10-year period;
  • Or, while not a resident of this Commonwealth during the entirety of the previous 10-year period, the volunteer has received clearances at any time since establishing residency in this Commonwealth and provides a copy of the certification to the person responsible for the selection of volunteers;
  • And the prospective volunteer swears or affirms in writing that they are not disqualified from service.

The Department of Human Services has launched a new website, KeepKidsSafe.PA.Gov that includes valuable information related to requirements to work with children in Pennsylvania. Lists of frequently asked questions are available on the site for school employees not governed by the Public School Code and volunteers.

For more information, contact Sandy Weaver, youth programs compliance specialist in the Office of Ethics and Compliance at

A student in art camp Credit: Laura Waldhier / Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated April 27, 2016