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Politics & Government

Wolf Waives Fees For Volunteers Seeking Background Checks

Volunteers working with children will find themselves free of the $20 fee from both the child abuse clearances and criminal background checks beginning July 25.

For non-volunteers, the standard cost for both the child abuse and criminal history record checks are being reduced from $10 per check to $8. There is no reimbursement for those who have already paid the fees.

Last year, 23 pieces of legislation were enacted, including Act 153 of 2014, which changed how Pennsylvania responds to child abuse. The changes impacted the reporting, investigation, assessment, prosecution and judicial handling of child abuse and neglect cases.

“This legislation is very important to protecting children and to making sure that the individuals that will be dealing directly with children have the proper clearance and background checks necessary to move forward,” said Jeff Sheridan, Gov. Tom Wolf's spokesman.

Beginning July 1, volunteers are required to obtain background checks, including the Child Abuse History Clearance, issued by the Department of Human Services, and the Criminal History Record Check, issued by the Pennsylvania State Police.

The list of persons required to get clearances includes:

  • Child care service employees
  • Foster parents and adult household members
  • Prospective adoptive parents and adult household members
  • Individuals 14 year of age or older applying for a paid position as an employee responsible for the welfare of a child or having direct contact with children
  • Any individual seeking or provide child care services under contract with a child care facility or program
  • School employees governed by public school code and those not governed by the public school code (colleges and universities)

The projected total number of volunteer clearances for the fiscal year of 2015-2016 is 296,836.
DHS will be able to turn the checks around quicker than the 14 days required by law, Sheridan said. No additional personnel will be required.