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Act 153

Act 153 (Contact with Minors) Background Checks

Thursday, July 9, 2015:

While recent changes to Pennsylvania's Act 153 remove the background check requirement for most employees at Duquesne, we know that a number of faculty and staff still need to undergo the screening process due to work responsibilities that put them in direct contact with minors on and off campus (e.g., faculty members, who as part of their job responsibilities, visit public and private K-12 schools; faculty working in clinic settings to provide services to children; and faculty and staff working with non-matriculated minors). Volunteers working with non-matriculated minors at the University will also need to undergo Act 153-specific background checks.

Accordingly, the University will provide the following assistance:
1. Guidance on how to obtain the specific clearances required by Act 153.
2. Reimbursement for the costs associated with obtaining job-related required clearances.

With respect to (1) above, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (PDHS) maintains a comprehensive website that provides detailed directions on how to apply for and obtain the specific clearances as required under Act 153:

· Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearances (Act 33)
· Pennsylvania Criminal Record Checks (Act 34)
· Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Fingerprinting and Criminal Background Checks (Act 114).

The PDHS website is:

There are several fingerprinting collection sites in our region. A list of locations is available here:

With respect to (2) above, the University will provide reimbursement for the costs associated with obtaining the required clearances provided the employee submits valid receipts:
· Act 33 ($10.00)
· Act 34 ($10.00)
· Act 114 ($27.50-$28.75).

The University will provide reimbursement only to employees who have a job-related need to work with minors as described above. Reimbursement will be made via the school/department business manager. Volunteers may not be eligible for reimbursement.

Questions may be directed to the Office of Human Resources at 412.396.5104.

Thursday, July 2, 2015:

We are pleased to report that Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law House Bill 1276 which provides a number of clarifications related to Pennsylvania's Child Protective Services Law and the Act 153 amendment. These clarifications remove background check requirements for certain employees in the higher education context. Below is a summary of the updates provided to us by the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania (AICUP):

1. The law now excludes from the background check the requirement that employees at institutions of higher education whose direct contact with children (defined as under 18 years of age), in the course of employment, is limited to either:

(A) prospective students visiting a campus or
(B) matriculated students who are enrolled at the institution.

2. The law now defines "routine interaction" (which is part of the definition of "direct contact") as "regular and repeated contact that is integral to a person's employment or volunteer responsibilities."

3. The law continues to require background checks for any employee of a college or university if that individual is in "direct contact" with a minor student who is enrolled in a secondary school or is considered a "dual enrollment" student attending high school.

4. The law continues to require background checks for any employee of a college or university who is in "direct contact" with minors at summer youth camps or other youth-oriented activities.

5. The effective date for volunteers to obtain background checks is extended from July 1, 2015 to August 25, 2015.

6. The law also changes the recertification period (frequency) for background checks from three years to five years.

Given the significant changes to the law, especially with respect to 1 (A) and (B) above, the University has decided to suspend background check activities on current employees who do not have direct contact with minors. Employees and volunteers involved with academic or athletic camps or activities and who have direct contact with minors will require background checks.

Thank you for your patience as we worked to implement the original law in a timely manner, and while we advocated for changes applicable to the higher education environment.

Reference Links:

Fact Sheet on Act 153 for School Employees

Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law (CPSL)

Act 153 of CPSL

Cogent Privacy Statement

House Bill 1276 (Proposed Amendments to Act 153)