Pennsylvania’s Child Abuse Law-ACT 153

Sample Youth Protection policies for Churches:

Child Protection Policy for Churches – Sample from Safe Church

Child & Youth Protection Policy for smaller churches – Sample




Today the Governor announced that effective July 25th, volunteers giving their time and talent to our children (e.g., Girl/Boy Scout Leaders, Little League coaches, advocates in a rape crisis or domestic violence shelter, Big Brothers/Sisters, Bible School teachers) will be exempt from paying for background checks conducted by the PA State Police ($10) and child abuse history clearance obtained through the PA Department of Human Services ($10).  That is an automatic savings of $20 for those volunteering with PA children.

Wolf’s actions remove a huge hurdle for those non-profits as well as faith and community-based agencies already running on a shoe string budget.  These organizations have been committed to protecting children, but new background check requirements added another layer of financial insecurity to already stretched-too-thin agencies and churches.

Wolf also revealed that employees required to get the PSP and DHS background checks will see the fee for both reduced by $2 each.  Employees then would pay $16 for both checks, as compared to the current $20 in total fees.

Wolf has no authority to waive the fees for the FBI checks that are still required of certain volunteers (those who have not resided in PA consecutively for the last 10 years).  The fate of FBI checks for volunteers is likely to be in the mix when House Bill 1276 advances.

Additional legislation has be presented that will roll back significant changes made to background-check provisions of Pennsylvania’s child protection laws, the House Children and Youth Committee moved the bill to the full House for consideration.  The vote is expected next week.  The Presbytery will keep you informed as we receive updated information.

Please continue to visit this Webpage on Act 153 Child Protective Services Law for current information regarding the Background Checks.  The Deadline Date for these background checks remains July 1, 2015 and must be completed to be compliant with the Law.



Act 153 of 2014 is a child protective services law that requires attention from every congregation in Lehigh Presbytery. The Pennsylvania General Assembly approved significant changes in the law that is intended to protect children. Both staff and volunteers – anyone with routine interaction with children – will be affected by the new standards.

Below is information on these changes and what needs to be done.  You may also click this link to view and/or print a pdf of the information below.



There has been a change in who is identified as a Mandated Reporter. According to the law, “An individual, paid or unpaid, who, on a regular basis of the individual’s role as an integral part of a regularly scheduled program, activity or service, accepts responsibility for a child…” This means any individual, who meets the above definition, which includes clergy, staff and volunteers is a Mandatory Reporter.

As a result, a church must:

  • Require all clergy and other employees, who accept responsibility for a child, to take three (3) hours of Department of Human Services approved training no later than June 30, 2015
  • For new employees, who will bear responsibility for children, this training must be taken within 90 days of hire or the beginning of volunteer service
  • Volunteers are currently not required to undergo Mandated Reporter training, but it is recommended.

The training must be offered by a DHS approved trainer. In most cases, this means the religious judicatory cannot offer the training itself, unless it has been approved by the DHS to do so. The training teaches recognition and reporting of child abuse.

To obtain training, go to one of the sites below:

  • – click on the yellow “Mandated Reporters” box, a drop down box will appear, and under Mandated Reporter Training, there are several options. Select the one which best suits your needs. There is a fee for this training.
  • – you will be required to register for this site. Simply follow the online instructions from that point on. This training is FREE.



All employees over the age of 14 and adult volunteers (who are responsible for children) must complete background checks.


  1. To obtain this clearance, go to:
  2. click on “Pennsylvania State Police Request for Criminal record Check Form (SP4-164)” and download the form. Please note that you will need a certified check or money order. Cash and personal checks are NOT accepted.


  1. To obtain this clearance:
  2. for a paper submission, go to Click on “CY113 form – English Child Abuse Clearance” and download the form. Please note that you will need a certified check or money order payable to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the amount of $10. Cash and personal checks are NOT accepted.
  3. to submit a request electronically, click on: and click on“Create a New Account.” You will need a credit card to complete the request.

All employees and any volunteer who has lived in PA for fewer than the last ten continuous years must complete the FEDERAL CRIMINAL HISTORY BACKGROUND CHECK (with submission of fingerprints)

  1. 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 more information and to begin the registration process, go to



In cases where mandated reporters suspect child abuse, reports must be made directly by the person who suspects that abuse has occurred. To make a report, go to or call 800-932-0313. If a report is made by telephone, the reporter must file an electronic or written report within 48 hours of making the oral report.


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