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Overview - Pennsylvania Act 153 Pertaining to Volunteers


In October 2014, Governor Corbett signed PA Act 153 into law. This legislation is designed to increase the safety of children by requiring background checks and child abuse clearances for all volunteers and staff who are responsible for children. This law impacts all organizations who serve youth and also includes strengthened mandatory reporting requirements for adult volunteers and staff.

What is the criteria for clearances?

Adults who are currently unpaid volunteers, or are applying to be unpaid volunteers with the following responsibilities:

  1. Acting in lieu of, or on behalf of a parent by providing care, supervision, guidance, or control of children, or…
  2. Having regular, ongoing contact with children that is integral to their volunteer responsibilities.

Special Notes: The PA Department of Human Services have provided the following interpretations specific to the Boy Scouts of America:

Clearances Are Not Required for the following situations:

  • Venturers or Explorers - Clearances are NOT required for 18-20 year old Venturers or Explorers, as they are not volunteers but program participants (even if these youth are providing leadership to youth under 18 years of age).
  • Scouts with Special Needs - Clearances are NOT required for special needs Scouts (age 18+) as they are program participants.
  • Tiger Cub Adult Partners - Clearances are NOT required for Tiger Cub Adult Partners as they are participating in the BSA program as parents.
  • Eagle Boards of Review - Clearances are NOT required for community volunteers serving on Eagle Boards of Review.
  • Drivers to camps or events (Parent to Parent) – if a parent asks another parent (parent to parent) to drive their son to an event or camp then clearances are NOT required.
  • Adults who stay occasionally at a meeting to help out – clearances are NOT required unless their participation becomes a weekly occurrence.
  • At Cub Scout Pack meetings or day events where parents are attending with their sons - clearances are NOT required of parents as volunteers.
  • At events where every Scout must participate with their parent(s) – clearances are NOT required of parents as volunteers.

 Clearances Are Required for the following situations:

  • Tiger Cub Den Leaders - Clearances ARE required for Tiger Cub Den Leaders.Merit Badge Counselors - Clearances ARE REQUIRED for Merit Badge Counselors (with or without parents present).
  • Drivers to camps or events (Unit Organized) - If a carpool is organized or drivers are recruited by the unit’s leaders, then clearances ARE REQUIRED.
  • Parents helping with fundraisers (Show and Sell and/or store front sales) – if the parent will be or could be responsible for a child other than their own son (or daughter) then clearances ARE REQUIRED.
  • At events where Scouts are participating without their parent(s) – clearances ARE REQUIRED of parents as volunteers, as they may be acting in lieu of a parent and will have routine interaction and direct contact with youth.

What clearances are required?

Volunteers who meet any of the above criteria must have the following clearances:

  1. Pennsylvania State Police Criminal History (After July 25, 2015, there will be no cost to obtain this clearance for non-profit volunteers working with children). - Link
  2. Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Child Abuse Clearance (After July 25, 2015, there will be no cost to obtain this clearance for non-profit volunteers working with children). - Link
  3. FBI Federal Criminal History (PA resident <10 years) or Disclosure Statement for Volunteers (PA resident 10+ years): 

Timeline for clearances

Existing volunteers (involved prior to August 25, 2015) who meet the criteria above, have until July 1, 2016 to complete and submit the required clearances. Please be aware that Hawk Mountain Council will begin to collect the clearances in advance of July 1, 2016 as part of the 2016 charter renewal process.

New volunteers (involved after August, 2015) who meet the above criteria, must complete and submit the required clearances before beginning their volunteer work with youth.

Each of the clearances and the disclosure form must be renewed every five years.

Where do I get the clearances?

Where do I submit my clearances once I have them?

Copies of clearances should be immediately submitted to the Council Office by the individual.   As of August 1, 2015, you have three options to submit clearances

  1. Mail to Hawk Mountain Council BSA, 5027 Pottsville Pike, Reading, PA 19506
  2. Drop off in person to Beaver Family Service Center or Hawk Mountain Scout Reservation (Hours of Operation)
  3. Scan and Email to Sue Settle at [Click for member's page].

Due to the potential for sensitive information, we cannot accept submission via fax.

Printable Instructions and Forms

Additional information can be found at the KEEP KIDS SAFE PA WEBSITEExternal Link

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