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NEW PENNSYLVANIA LAW REQUIRES CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECKS
This is a two-part communication from the National Council of Youth Sports (NCYS).

PART I -- IMPORTANT!
New Pennsylvania Law Requires Criminal Background Checks

Maybe you haven't yet heard about Pennsylvania's Act 153 of 2014, but this new state law may significantly affect your organization concerning background screening requirements for employees and volunteers working with youth in Pennsylvania. This includes individuals serving with or at sports or athletic programs, youth camps or programs, outreach programs, enrichment programs, troops, clubs and similar organizations. Administrators who fail to comply with the Act can be fined up to $2,500.

As of December 31 2014, Pennsylvania Act 153 of 2014 requires that employees and volunteers who have direct contact or are responsible for the welfare of a child must obtain three background check clearances. Determination of who needs clearance and timeframes of implementation vary (some commence as early as July 1, 2015). Please be sure to consult your legal counsel when making determinations and/or interpretations. You should also discuss with your insurers possible insurance coverage implications.

The required background check clearances include:
1. Criminal History Record Information obtained from the Pennsylvania State Police ($10 fee)
2. Child Abuse Clearance obtained through the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services certifying the applicant is not named in the statewide database “as the alleged perpetrator in a pending child abuse investigation or as the perpetrator of a founded report or indicated report” of child abuse.” ($10 fee)
3. Federal Criminal History Record Information obtained by submitting a full set of fingerprints to Cogent Systems for submission to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. ($27.50 fee)

Volunteers are not required to complete the FBI clearance (#3) if they have lived continuously in Pennsylvania over the previous 10 years and are working an unpaid position. However, they must swear or affirm in writing that they are not barred from volunteering due to a conviction or offense under §6344. Individuals who reside outside of Pennsylvania may serve as a volunteer for no more than 30 days as long as they provide clearances from their home state or county. Those volunteering longer than 30 days must obtain clearance through the state of Pennsylvania.

Additional Resources:
Text of the new law
FAQ’s About Volunteers for the Law from the PA Department of Human Services
FAQ’s About Employees for the Law from the PA Department of Human Services
Request a Pennsylvania Criminal History Record Online
Request a Pennsylvania Child Abuse Clearance Online
Request a Federal Criminal History Record Online or by calling 1-888-439-2486


PART II -- Call to Action letter!
The National Council of Youth Sports is encouraging you to write to the Pennsylvania General Assembly Legislators expressing your concerns and asking them to amend Act 153 of 2014. Below is a template letter that we have drafted for you to customize with your own factual information. Here’s how to Find your Representative(s): http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/

TEMPLATE LETTER:

-- insert today’s date --

Re: Pennsylvania Act 153 of 2014 amending the Child Protective Services Law

Dear Senator or Representative _____________________:

--insert your organization name here-- is headquartered in your District and has --insert number-- of volunteers. We pride our organization on keeping the safety of our young athletes as our top priority. To that end, we require annual background screening including a national check and sex offender registry search for all of our organization’s employees and volunteers.

We respect the intent of Act 153 to protect our children, but believe that, as written, it creates serious challenges for our Pennsylvania volunteers:
~ The implementation date is July 1st, 2015 which is fast approaching. Many local, grassroots organizations are likely to be unaware of the Act.
~ The approval process. The Act now requires approvals by no less than three separate state agencies, which becomes onerous for our volunteers, greatly increases the workload on those state agencies, and slows down the approval process.

The State of Florida has recently implemented a law with a similar goal as Act 153, #CS/HB 139. There is a crucial difference in the Florida law (Chapter 943 Section 0438), though. It specifies that, if the youth organization does a national database and Sex Offender Registry check that complies with the requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, that screening is an acceptable substitute for the screening done through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

For all of us in youth sports, I strongly encourage you to:
1) Amend Act 153 to extend the date of implementation for all volunteers until July 1st 2016, and to;
2) Simplify and streamline the process for the overworked volunteers and the state agencies involved by emulating the Florida law by allowing appropriate national screenings and sex offender registry searches as equivalents.

Sincerely,

--your name, title, organization name, mailing address, phone number and email address--

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The NCYS leads the amateur youth sport industry in promoting and enhancing the value of participation through advocacy and education. Founded in 1979, the National Council of Youth Sports (NCYS) membership serves 60,000,000 boys and girls registered in organized youth sports programs. The NCYS is well-known for advocacy in promoting healthy lifestyles and safe environments for stronger neighborhood and communities. The NCYS is committed to being the united voice for amateur youth sports and advancing the youth sports experience in America. For more information call 772-781-1452; email: youthsports@ncys.org; or visit www.ncys.org.