The State of Pennsylvania now has very strict background check requirements, all to be updated every three (3) years, for any and all volunteers who have contact with children. For our parish, this requirement will extend to all Clergy, Staff, Vestry members, acolytes/ushers, children's chapel volunteers, Sunday School Teachers, Family Promise volunteers, and those involved in special children's programming. The checks involved include:
1. Report of Criminal History from the Pennsylvania State Police
2. Child Abuse History Clearance from Department of Human Services
3. Employees and volunteers are required to have an FBI Fingerprint clearance (Affidavit available from Kathy Corkadel in the church office if you have been a resident of Pennsylvania for at least 10 years)
4. Completion of Safe Church online Training. Contact Kathy Corkadel in the church office for login details.
5. Pennsylvania Mandated Reporter Training (Act 31)
Church of the Advent is willing to reimburse anyone who completes these checks upon request. It is too important to follow Pennsylvania Law and keep our children safe.
Required checks and how to get them done:
Report of Criminal History from the Pennsylvania State Police:
One Copy is to be submitted with a money order or certified check for the amount of $10.00 payable to Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. After completion mail to:
Pennsylvania State Police Central Repository - 164
1800 Elmerton Avenue
Harrisburg, PA 17110-9758
For assistance call the PATCH Help Line toll-free at 1-888-QUERY-PA (1-888-783-7972).
Please contact Pennsylvania State Police Request for Criminal Record Checks form (SP4 164), or call: (717) 783-9973 or toll free 1-888-783-7972.
Child Abuse History Clearance from Department of Human Services:
Paper submissions of the Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance application will still be accepted for anyone who may not have access to the internet. Submit paper applications to:
ChildLine and Abuse Registry
Pennsylvania Department of Human Services
PO Box 8170
Harrisburg, PA 17105-8170
Please contact Childline Verification Unit at (717) 783-6211 or toll free at 1-877-371-5422.
FBI Fingerprint Clearance
The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services is utilizing Cogent Systems to process fingerprint-based FBI criminal background checks. The fingerprint based background check is a multiple step process.
For questions about your FBI Clearance, please contact the FBI/Adam Walsh Unit at (717) 783-6211 or toll free at 1-877-371-5422. Cost $27.50.
Safe Church Training
All employees and volunteers are required to complete the free online training in Safe Church sponsored by the Diocese of Pennsylvania.
Please contact our Safe Church Training Administrator, Kathy Gebhart at 610 444 4624 to access the program and track the data.
At the completion of this training, participants will be able to print out a Certificate of Completion, which should be presented to the Administrator and placed in a file.
A Letter from our priest in Charge about these changes
May 19, 2015
Dear Congregation Members:
Our children are our most valuable assets. On December 31, 2014, Pennsylvania Law was changed to protect our children from child abuse. This change affects how we operate with volunteer staff for our children and youth programs. Pennsylvania now requires all employees of the church and volunteers that work with children and youth (18 and under) to have background checks every 36 months.
The law broadens the definition of a “mandated reporter” and now includes clergy, all paid church staff and volunteers who work with children and youth in any capacity. The mandated reporter will be required to make reports of any suspected abuse directly, rather than reporting it to a supervisor. Failure to report the abuse could result in misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on the severity of the alleged abuse.
We want to help cover the expense of this process. When you have received your clearances, and bring them to the church, we will reimburse 100% of the cost of these clearance checks. Our program depends on our volunteers, and we need your help to comply with this new law.
The following checks are now required:
1. Report of Criminal History from the Pennsylvania State Police:
2. Child Abuse History Clearance from Department of Human Services:
3. Employees and volunteers (by 7/1/15) are required to have an FBI Fingerprint clearance:
Effective 12/31/14, all employee clearance, including FBI must be obtained every 36 months; churches have a one year period or until 12/31/15 to bring all employees up to date on their background checks. Rostered leaders, church staff, and church volunteers are required to have current (less than 36 month old) background checks by 7/1/15.
In addition, all employees and volunteers are required to complete the free online training in Safe Church sponsored by the Diocese of Pennsylvania. Please contact our Safe Church Training Administrator, Kathy Gebhart, to access the program and track the data. At the completion of this training, participants will be able to print out a Certificate of Completion, which should be presented to the Administrator and placed in a file.
We understand that this is a tremendous amount of time and effort to ask, however, the safety of our children is worth whatever this requires. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have.
Thank you for your time and understanding.
Priest in Charge
Episcopal Church of the Advent