In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania there are some very specific requirements for people who will be working as volunteers with children:
One: Complete a Pennsylvania Criminal Record background check through PATCH here. It is free and is a fairly painless procedure. After navigating several screens you will get a result which looks like this:
Click on the blue link starting with an R (shown in this picture covered with a gray box with x’s for privacy’s sake. That will get you to this screen:
You’re still not quite done: click on the link that says Certification Form at the bottom of this screen. THAT will get you your actual certificate:
Once this is on your screen you can print it directly, or you can start the printing process and then in the print dialogue tell your computer to save it as a PDF, which you will be able to print or email directly to us.
TWO: Complete a Pennsylvania Child Abuse Clearance. You can do that here: ChildLine. It is free and a hugely time-consuming process (Sorry. Not our idea.) There are a number of steps.
1 Create an account
2 Check your email for your Username (which you just created) and a temporary password
3 Log back in using the temporary password
4 Create a permanent password, with very specific guidelines about what is permitted/required
5 Log back in AGAIN using the permanent password
6 Create an application for your clearance, which involves listing every PERSON and PLACE that you have lived in/with since 1975. No, we’re not kidding.
7 Wait about 2 weeks for the agency to complete your check. At that point, they should email you that your clearance is ready and you should be able to access it online, especially if you wrote down your extremely complicated password. They will also mail you a copy if you selected that option.
THREE: either submit a Volunteer Application OR have your fingerprints taken for an FBI background check.
If you have lived in Pennsylvania for ALL of the past 10 years, you can download the Volunteer Application, print it out, sign it, have someone witness that you signed it (does not need to be notarized or anything – just someone else who saw you sign it) and send it to us either by scanning, mailing, or handing it to us in person.
If you have NOT lived in Pennsylvania for ALL of the past 10 years, you will need to register online to have your fingerprints taken for an FBI background check. Registering is pretty easy: go to Cogent Public Welfare FBI Checks. If you have any difficulty with the system (sometimes it does have problems), you can also register by calling 1-888-439-2486.
Things to note #1: it is NOT free (cost ~$25). If this is a cost you are able to absorb, well and good. If it is a hardship for you, please do not hesitate to ask for us to cover the cost (email ].
Things to note #2: it is VERY IMPORTANT to use the link above and NOT go looking on your own and find the Department of Education link, which looks the same but will not get you what we need. For reasons best known to bureaucracy, there are two ways to get an FBI fingerprint background check in PA. One is through the Department of Public Welfare; once you’ve had your fingerprints taken YOU are mailed a paper certificate which you can take anywhere you’re volunteering to prove that you are authorized to do so. The other is through the Department of Education and once you’ve had your fingerprints taken the results go into a database only schools can access. This also means that if you work or volunteer in a school and had your fingerprints done there, we cannot accept the unofficial printout showing that for this portion of the background check process. (Again, sorry. Not our idea.)
Once you are registered, you make an appointment directly with a fingerprinting location to go in person and have your fingerprints taken digitally. The list of locations is can be found here (under “Print Site Locations: Print Locations and Hours.”)
Several weeks after you go have your fingerprints taken you will receive a blue shaded paper certificate. Bring this document to us for us to physically see in person and make a copy of (you keep the original.)
All of these certifications are good for FIVE years.