Thank you for your interest in supporting the Forest Area School District. As per the 2015 changes to the Child Protective Services Law, volunteers are now required to comply with clearance checks every three years and complete training as a mandated reporter of Child Abuse every five years. The provisions of these laws can be a little confusing so please be sure that you contact Mrs. Kennedy or Mrs. Wells at the Central Office if you have any questions after reading through these materials.
For the purposes of the law, a volunteer is defined as someone who is in a position to supervise or direct the activities of students. All those who work with students as a classroom volunteer, coach or chaperone should procure clearances. Clearances will not be required for one-time guest speakers, concession stand workers (as long as no students are working at the concession stand) or parents who are coming to observe programs offered to the public. Individual situations should be brought to the attention of the building principals or Central Office staff for clarification.
For every volunteer, the Central Office is required by the state to have copies of all of these:
- Certificate – Mandated Reporter Training (shows completion of a free 3 hour online training)
- Certificate – DHS Child Abuse History
- Certificate – PA State Police Criminal History Check
- Letter or Affadavit – FBI Clearance Report
The links that are included below will help you be sure that you are finding the right clearances. Paper copies are available from the Central Office if you do not have Internet access.
Without volunteers, we would never get so much accomplished. While I know these regulations may be inconvenient and costly, I appreciate you taking the time and making the effort to comply with them since it is important to know that our children are safe. I appreciate everything that you do to help the Forest Area School District and value your service.
Amanda E. Hetrick
The Forest Area School District does not discriminate based upon age, gender, race, or handicapping condition. Compliance officers for Title IX, Mrs. Amanda Hetrick and Section 504, Mrs. Debra Amer
The Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) has been amended and now requires all school volunteers having direct contact with children to obtain new clearances (Pennsylvania Criminal History, Pennsylvania Child Abuse History and the FBI Clearance) every thirty-six (36) months. A volunteer, to which the new law applies, is defined as an adult serving in an unpaid position in which he/she is individually responsible for the welfare of a child or has direct contact with children (the possibility of care, supervision, guidance or control of children or routine interaction with children).
If a volunteer completes the required Affidavit verifying that he/she has continuously resided in Pennsylvania for ten (10) years AND swearing in writing that he/she has never been convicted of a disqualifying crime in Pennsylvania, or the corresponding offenses under the laws of any other jurisdiction, they need only to obtain the Pennsylvania Criminal History and the Pennsylvania Child Abuse History, and the FBI Clearance is not required.
Any State and Federal mandated criminal background clearance that is required to be submitted to the District must be less than one (1) year old and will remain valid during each thirty-six (36) month period so long as the volunteer remains in service at least one (1) day per school year.
Each volunteer must provide his/her original clearances. Photocopies, faxed copies, or scanned copies of clearances will not be accepted. For each clearance submitted, a Volunteer Clearance Certification Form will be signed. The original of the Certification and a copy of the clearance will be retained by the District. Since all clearances are obtained at the expense of the volunteer, the original of each clearance will be returned to the volunteer after a copy has been made by the District.
A volunteer must notify the District, in writing, of any arrest or conviction for any offense, as outlined in Section 111 of the School Code, within seventy-two (72) hours of such arrest or conviction. A volunteer must also notify the District in writing, within seventy-two (72) hours of notification, that the volunteer has been listed as a perpetrator in the Statewide database, in accordance with the Child Protective Services Law.
Each volunteer must maintain current clearances as a condition of providing volunteer services. A volunteers failure to maintain current clearances, failure to provide original clearances, or failure to accurately report arrests, convictions, or alleged child abuse within 72 hours as required by 24 P.S.§ 1-111 or 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 6344.3 may, depending on the nature of the infraction, subject the volunteer to denial as a volunteer, termination as a volunteer if already approved, and/or criminal prosecution.
No volunteer shall be permitted to commence service or to have direct contact with children until the volunteer has complied with all of the requirements stated herein and has been approved by the Board of School Directors.
A volunteer (as defined in the first paragraph on page 1) is a mandated reporter of child abuse. Please refer to School District Policy 806 relative to reporting obligations.
Questions regarding clearances may be directed to Mrs. Darla Kennedy or Mrs. Katherine Wells at the Forest Area School District Central Office. Directions for accessing online clearance forms are below. Forms may also be obtained from the Central Office.
How to Obtain Background Checks
Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Certification
As of Dec. 31, 2014, requests for clearance statements (now called “certifications”) may be made online at https://www.compass.state.pa.us/CWIS at a cost of $10. Paper submissions of the clearance statement request form (CY113 Form) may be accessed via the Department of Human Services (DHS) website (www.dhs.pa.gov) and mailed to the ChildLine and Abuse Registry, Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, P.O. Box 8170, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8170.
Pennsylvania State Police Criminal History Checks
Pennsylvania state reports cost approximately $10.00 and may be secured online using the state police website, or by accessing Form SP4-164 on the state police website (www.psp.pa.gov) and mailing the request form to Pennsylvania State Police Central Repository-164, 1800 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17110-9758. Questions about State Police checks may be directed to 1- 888-QUERYPA (1-888-783-7972).
Reminder: This is only required if you have not resided in PA for the past 10 years.
To request FBI reports, costing approximately $28.75. Find application forms and instructions at https://www.dhs.pa.gov or by calling 1-888-439-2486. For more information, you may refer to the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) website at https://psea.org/backgroundchecks/.
Mandated Reporter Training
All volunteers are considered by law to be mandated reporters of child abuse. This means that anything that you witness or that a child confides in you that leads you to suspect either neglect or abuse may be occurring, must be reported or you may be liable. There is an online training available at www.reportabusepa.pitt.edu Once you complete the training, there is a certificate that can be printed. Please bring your certificate in so that the District Office can make a copy for our files which will be good for five years.