new regulations for youth volunteers

New state laws that went into effect last year will help keep kids safe by requiring all volunteers 18 or older and employees 14 or older who work with children to have three different kinds of background checks to look for criminal or child abuse history. That rule has implications for municipal recreation program participants and volunteers, as well as for those who help out with private sports groups such as the Mt. Lebanon Soccer Association.

First things first: if you want to enroll your child in a recreation program through the municipality, whether it’s a sport or summer camp, please do it as soon as possible. Obtaining clearances can take up to six weeks. The rec department needs to know how many employees and volunteers will be required to have these new checks, and they need enough time to get them. The same goes for any of our private sports organizations, which also will need to require these clearances.

For recreation department volunteers: If you are going to be helping with a spring or early summer program, you may do exactly what you did in the past: fill out a consent form, and the rec department will do the checks for you at no cost. Those clearances will be good through the end of June 2016.

But if your program starts after May 15, you must get and pay for the checks on your own. The checks are as follows:

If you have been a continuous resident of Pennsylvania for the past 10 years, you need a criminal history report from the state police and a child abuse history from the Department of Human Services, as well as verification that you have not committed any of these crimes in another state.

If you have not lived here 10 continuous years, you need the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) clearance, the child abuse clearance and a fingerprint-based criminal history from the FBI.

The clearances are available online, with the exception of the fingerprinting, which must be done in person. The PSP and child abuse clearances cost $10 each; the FBI clearance, if necessary, costs $25.75.

If you need the new clearances for another use, such as volunteering for some other organization, the rec department will accept them at any time, even prior to May 15.

FAQ and links here.

Photo by George Mendel