Summary of the July 1, 2015 revisions to the CPSL -
Read the full memo
On June 30, 2015, both chambers of the Pennsylvania State General Assembly gave final approval to a bill that would make corrective and clarifying amendments to the background check provisions of the Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) that had been adopted late in 2014 and which had generated substantial public criticism as being too onerous, particularly for volunteers who had direct contact with children. Governor Wolf then signed the new bill into law as Act 2015-15 on July 1, 2015, to become effective immediately.
The following statutory changes to the December 2014 CPSL are those most pertinent to our Catholic parishes, schools and other entities within the Diocese of Greensburg.
For all Employees:
- The law as it stood prior to the enactment of this bill required virtually all employees and volunteers who serve in schools or in children’s programs or activities and who have “direct contact with children” to obtain background clearances. The key term “direct contact with children” was defined to mean: “The care, supervision, guidance or control of children or routine interaction with children.” That standard remains the same with respect to paid employees.
- The newly amended law adds a definition of “direct volunteer contact” and thereby creates a separate standard for the background check mandate as applied to volunteers. This new term is defined as: “The care, supervision, guidance or control of children and (instead of “or”) routine interaction with children.” The change is very subtle and will have to be applied to specific circumstances on a case-by-case basis. In addition, the bill also adds a new definition for “routine interaction with children” which would read: “Regular and repeated contact that is integral to a person’s employment or volunteer responsibilities.” That definition might add at least some clarity to the underlying definitions of “direct contact with children” and “direct volunteer contact.”
Additional revisions to the CPSL will now:
- Make it easier to use the Affidavit in place of the FBI fingerprint clearances for adult volunteers
- Make it easier to use the Affidavit in place of the FBI fingerprint clearances for minor employees
- Eliminate the cost of most clearances for volunteers
- Extend the time that the recertification process is necessary
- Extend the time in which the certification process is to be completed
- Allow the use of existing current clearances in order to obtain employment if all conditions are met, as well as to allow the person to volunteer for multiple organizations
In 2014, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Legislature enacted sweeping changes to the Child Protective Services Law (CPSL), including, but not limited to, expansion of mandated reporters, expansion of individuals subject to required clearances from the Pennsylvania State Police, Department of Human Services (formerly Department of Public Welfare) and the FBI, expansion of the frequency of the required clearances and imposition of significant criminal penalties for noncompliance.
It is important to note that failure to comply with the CPSL requirements is subject to significant criminal penalties and civil liabilities.
Please Note: Our Diocese of Greensburg clearance and training policy for all employees and all volunteers is to have all employees and all volunteers obtain all clearances and complete all trainings. Regardless of the level of contact that an employee or volunteer has with children, the below listed clearances are required before any employment or ministerial work can begin.
The Diocese of Greensburg considers all paid clergy, parish, cemetery and school staff to be a Mandated Reporter.
The Pennsylvania Provisional Services Law allows for an applicant for full or part-time employment or a volunteer for a position to be hired or accepted on a 30-day provisional basis. The Diocese of Greensburg does not ascribe to this practice. The Diocese requires that all documentation be in place prior to the applicant being offered a position in the Diocese.
Clearances, as required by the state of Pennsylvania, are valid for a period of five years, and must be renewed prior to the five-year expiration date in order to be able to continue employment, or to volunteer.
The Diocese of Greensburg requires all clergy, parish, cemetery, school employees and all volulnteers to have all of the following clearances and trainings prior to work or ministry in the diocese. Employees and volunteers working in our Catholic schools are required to have additional clearances. Please refer to the School section below for that information.
Please also visit the
Frequently Asked Questions.