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12/05/2019

Human Services Secretary Reminds Pennsylvanians of Upcoming Changes to Clearances for Employees Having Contact with Children

Harrisburg, PA - Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller today issued a reminder of upcoming effective dates for clearance requirements in the Child Protective Services Law.

“The Wolf Administration is committed to doing all we can to create safe environments for children,” Sec. Miller said. “Allowing employees to have contact with children when necessary clearances haven’t been provided creates a risk that we cannot accept. While change can create challenges, I know we are all aligned in our goal to ensure children are safe.”

As of January 1, 2020, all employees having contact with children are required to obtain criminal background checks and the Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance prior to beginning employment. The change eliminates the ability for agencies or organizations to hire employees on a provisional basis. This ensures that those who have contact with children meet state and federal requirements and enhances the safety of environments where children are served.

Based on Act 47, child care centers, group child care homes, and family child care homes can request a waiver to hire an employee on a provisional basis for no longer than 45 days.  This new employee is not permitted to work alone with children and must be in the immediate vicinity of a permanent employee until all required clearances are received. The waiver and instructions will be on the Keep Kids Safe website in the near future.

In July, Governor Tom Wolf signed an executive order strengthening protections for vulnerable populations such as children receiving care outside their homes. Enhanced requirements for employers who operate programs, activities, or services that primarily serve children represent the administration’s continued commitment to keeping children safe at all times.

Pennsylvania’s Child Protective Services law formerly allowed a 90-day provisional hire period for individuals who had applied for but were still waiting for clearance results. This period was eliminated in Act 47 of 2019 to ensure all having contact with children are legally able to do so. DHS is required to process Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearances within 14 days from the day in which the request is received and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) criminal history background checks within 30 days from the date of receipt. Generally, clearances are processed more quickly than required. Sec. Miller encouraged all affected by this change to plan and begin the clearance process early to avoid unnecessary delays in starting employment.

In addition to Act 47 of 2019, The federal Family First Prevention Services Act also requires all adults who work in child care settings that receive Title IV-E funding to obtain child abuse clearances even if they are not working directly with children.

For more information on obtaining clearances, visit www.keepkidssafe.pa.gov.

MEDIA CONTACT: Erin James - 717-425-7606

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