As of December 1st, 2017, all volunteer clearance services are provided by IdentoGO, who has recently taken over the contract for all fingerprinting services in Pennsylvania.
IdentoGO has just signed an agreement with a new partner agency in Kennett Square, which will become public in late June - early July 2018. Check back here at that time to find out who the new partner agency is! (Closest fingerprinting site is currently in West Chester or Lancaster County)
Below you will continue to find useful information regarding requirements, steps, and eligibilities for volunteer clearances in Pennsylvania. Thank you so much for your commitment to serving our community!
Thank you for your commitment to volunteering in Pennsylvania! We don’t take for granted the time and effort you invest into making our communities and our future leaders (the children and youth that you serve) the absolute best they can be. Whether it’s your very first time volunteering, or, if you’ve been volunteering in Pennsylvania for years, we appreciate you!
In recognition of the new PA ACT 153, which ensures that all children and youth (specifically, children and youth less than 18 years of age) who encounter volunteers and organizations within Pennsylvania are in the safest environments possible, there are several new or additional steps for all of the volunteers who work in direct contact or environments with children and youth.
While we all want our children safe, obtaining clearance within Pennsylvania can be a daunting task. With a patchwork of websites and organizations involved in the process, the process can seem overwhelming. That’s where we, The Constellation Network, come in!
Our goal is to make your application as easy and time efficient as possible. Volunteers who have direct or routine interaction with children and youth under 18 years of age must complete up to four steps.
Follow each simplified step below to complete the process. Thank you for your service!
Who needs clearances?
As a volunteer in direct or regular contact with children and youth, you will need to complete some or all of the following steps if:
- Existing Volunteer with Expired Clearances: You are an existing volunteer and your last background check was completed before 5 years from today (All checks must be renewed every 5 years). Please note that organizations are permitted to override the 5 year requirement by requiring them as often as they see fit (i.e. every year).
- Educator: If you are in the education system in any capacity, check with your school for your requirements. You may have to complete some steps before the five year mark.
- New PA Volunteer: You are a new volunteer in Pennsylvania.
- Not Yet Long-Term PA Resident: You have lived in Pennsylvania for less than 10 years.
- Non-PA Resident: You are a resident of another state other than Pennsylvania.
If you are not required to be fingerprinted for any reason, you MUST complete the state designated waiver form PRIOR to submitting a volunteer application. Your organization should require this of you.
What costs are involved?
Costs range from $0 to $25.75, depending on several factors. Volunteers are directly responsible for any costs; however, some organizations will cover the costs on your behalf.
**Please ask the organization for which you volunteer whether or not they are covering the cost of steps 1 and 2 below if you have been cleared within the past 5 years and are being required to apply once more. Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania has announced that fees for volunteers with direct or routine interaction with youth and children regarding child abuse clearances and background checks will be waived once per 5 years beginning July 25, 2015. If you are a volunteer and have not already received a waiver of these fees within the past 5 years, you are eligible to have the fees for items 1 and 2 below waived. However, no one is exempt from the cost of step 3. While your organization may cover this fee as well, the volunteer must complete the process of scanning their fingerprints themselves.
- PA History of Child Abuse Clearance -Cost: Free *unless you are re-applying within 5 years of your last clearance
- Background/Criminal Record Check – Cost: Free *unless you are re-applying within 5 years of your last clearance
- Registration for Fingerprinting – Cost: $25.75 fee
- Fingerprint Scanning – Cost: No additional fee
Frequently Asked Questions
- How do I know if I qualify for direct or routine volunteer contact with children?
- Do I really need to do all of the steps of this clearance application?
- I am a church volunteer and have been for years. Do I still need to complete the process?
- I’m not a resident of Pennsylvania but I volunteer in the state sometimes. Do I still need to complete all of the steps?
- I have lived in Pennsylvania for several years. Do I still need to go through all of the checks?
- I only volunteer occasionally. Do I still need to do the entire process?
- My organization said they would pay for my application. What do I do?
- I’ve been waiting for over a month for my fingerprinting results. Who do I contact?
- Is there a way to expedite my application and/or my results?
- I volunteer in a school district and completed the process last year. Do I need to do the process all over again this year?
- If I volunteer for more than one organization, do I need to apply multiple times?
- What if I am not a citizen of the United States?
How do I know if I qualify for direct or routine volunteer contact with children?
Children are defined by an individual under the age of 18 years of age.
According to definitions within the act and found on the PA Dept of Human Services Volunteer FAQ page:
Direct volunteer contact is defined as the care, supervision, guidance or control of children and routine interaction with children.
Routine interaction is regular and repeated contact that is integral to a person’s employment or volunteer responsibilities.
Check with your volunteer organization if you are still unsure of your requirement for clearances.
Do I really need to do all of the steps of this clearance application?
If you are a new volunteer who is serving in the state of Pennsylvania and have direct or routine interaction with children and youth under 18 years of age must complete up to four steps, yes. If you qualify for the following, you will need to complete the application in its entirety:
- You have lived in Pennsylvania for less than 10 years.
- Your last background check was 57 months before today.
- You are a resident of a state other than Pennsylvania.
- You are a volunteer in school districts (check with your school on what is required for their district).
I am a church volunteer and have been for years. Do I still need to complete the process?
- All individuals who have direct or routine interaction with children and youth under 18 years of age must complete up to four steps. They will be required to complete the process in its entirety. Children’s and Youth Ministry is not excluded from this process.
- All volunteers are required to complete the process every 57 months. All new volunteers must complete all clearance steps as of July 1, 2015, prior to volunteering. If you are a current volunteer, you will need to complete all clearance steps by July 1, 2016.
I’m not a resident of Pennsylvania but I volunteer in the state sometimes. Do I still need to complete all of the steps?
- All volunteers within the state of Pennsylvania, even if it is not the volunteer’s state of residence, are required to complete this process before having direct or routine interaction with children and youth under 18 years of age.
I have lived in Pennsylvania for several years. Do I still need to go through all of the checks?
- If you have lived in Pennsylvania for less than 10 years, you will need to complete the entire process.
I only volunteer occasionally. Do I still need to do the entire process?
- Even if you volunteer a few days a year, if you volunteer in an environment in direct contact with children and youth for those days, you are required to complete the entire application for clearance. *Please check with your organization before beginning the clearance process.
My organization said they would pay for my application. What do I do?
- As the costs associated with the Child Abuse Clearance and Police Check are currently waived for volunteers, your organization is not responsible or required to cover the cost of fingerprinting. Legally, at this time, fingerprinting must be paid for by the volunteer. If your organization is claiming they will pay the fingerprinting fees, you will need to directly work with them on how they are planning to pay or reimburse you.
I’ve been waiting for over a month for my fingerprinting results. Who do I contact?
- As a volunteer, your results will be sent to you via mail. Wait times for results can vary between 10 business days and up to 4-6 weeks. If you do not receive your results in that timeframe, you may contact the PA Department of Human Services: 717.783.6211 to obtain another copy. Please have all of your information available, prior to contacting them, for ease of service.
Is there a way to expedite my application and/or my results?
- Unfortunately, there is no way to expedite results at this time. While you may complete all steps in a relatively short period of time, you can expect the time frames they give you upon completion of each step, in terms of when you would receive your results.
I volunteer in a school district and completed the process last year. Do I need to do the process all over again this year?
- Please check with your school district to ensure they have all of your prior documentation. Some schools may require certain steps to be completed each year. It is your responsibility to check with your school to ensure that you have completed the process as they require, before volunteering.
I volunteer only one day a year for a special event. Do I still need to complete all of the clearances?
- Check with your volunteer organization on exact requirements for the volunteer work you will be doing. At this time, all volunteers who have direct or routine interaction with children and youth under 18 years of age must complete the entire process for clearance to volunteer with them. Confirm with your organization as soon as possible (to give plenty of time for you to complete the process or certain steps of clearance, if necessary, before the one day event).
I don’t want to give my social security number. Is it mandatory for the application?
- At this time, your social security number is not mandatory for your application. Although it is an option to submit your social security number in each application, there is a disclaimer that it is not necessary to complete your clearances.
If I volunteer for more than one organization, do I need to apply multiple times?
- In most cases, you should not have to complete the process multiple times if you have a record of all of your clearances. However, we recommend checking with each of the organizations you volunteer for to ensure that they will accept clearances obtained for another organization. In addition, we suggest that you keep all completed documents and make copies for your records, as well as for the organizations you are volunteering for.
What if I am not a citizen of the United States?
- At this time, you are not required to obtain clearances from any other locations as PA law requires only PA child abuse, PA criminal and FBI checks and clearances.