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Background Check Clearances

PA Capitol Slider ImageFrequently asked questions regarding:

PA Child Protective Services Law
and Required Background Check Clearances

Q: Is there background information available on the purpose and scope of this new state law (Act 15)?
A: Yes, the council’s website has information available via the following links:

Q: Who in my unit is required to have clearances?
A: All registered volunteers, regardless of position, are required to obtain and submit all state mandated clearances. New volunteers must complete their clearances to submit along with their BSA application before volunteer service begins. Currently registered volunteers (registered with the BSA prior to August 25, 2015) must complete and provide copies of their clearances to the council prior to July 1, 2016.

Non-registered volunteers over the age of 18, which includes, for example, parents, relatives, and friends, who provide care, supervision, training or control of a youth member in lieu of parental control and/or have regular and repeated contact (routine interaction) with youth members that is integral to the volunteer activities are required to submit the clearances, as well.

Q: What are some examples of non-registered volunteers who are required to have clearances and some who are not?
A:   Here a few useful examples:

  • Tiger Adult Partners are participants in the BSA program as a parent so they aren’t considered to be volunteers and clearances are not required of them.
  • Adults who stay occasionally at a meeting to help out but it isn’t a regular weekly occurrence are not required to provide clearances.
  • An adult who is recruited by the unit to transport youth members to camp and/or events is required to obtain the state mandated clearances.
  • A parent helping youth members with fundraisers (such as the Popcorn Show n’ Sells), where the parent could be responsible for a child other than their own, is required to provide clearances.
  • Clearances are not required for community volunteers serving on Eagle Boards of Review.

Q: Are Merit Badge Counselors required to have the clearances?
A: Yes.

Q: What are the state required clearances?
A: There are three:

  1. The Pennsylvania State Police Criminal History Clearance (no fee)
  2. The Child Abuse History Clearance (no fee)
  3. Either the FBI Fingerprint Based Criminal History Clearance (for those who have not lived in Pennsylvania for at least the past ten consecutive years) or the New Birth of Freedom Council Disclosure Statement Application for Volunteers (for those who have lived in Pennsylvania for at least the past ten consecutive years.) There is no fee for the Volunteer Disclosure, and the fee for the FBI clearance is $25.75

Q: How long does it take for the clearance results to come in?
A: Some of the clearance results may come back within a few minutes but others may take as long as four weeks, which is why it’s very important to start the process well in advance of when you’d like to begin volunteering. For those Scouting volunteers who were registered prior to August 26, 2015 and who must have their clearances submitted to the council by July 1, 2016, it would be advisable to begin the process no later than early May to ensure there’s enough time for the clearance results to be received and processed, thus eliminating the possibility of disruption in their volunteer service.

Q: Do I have to re-do my clearances every year?
A: No – the clearances are good for 60 months. If you’ve done the FBI Fingerprint Based Clearance, it is a “once and done” so you won’t have to re-do this one at all.

Q: If I already completed the three state required clearances for work or another organization where I volunteer, do I have to do them again for Scouting?
A: No, as long as they are current. You should retain the originals of all of your clearances and provide copies to the council. The one exception is if you’re providing the Volunteer Disclosure, then it must be the council’s version since it has language specific to the council.

Q: Does the Disclosure Statement Application for Volunteers have to be notarized?
A: No, but your signature must be witnessed by another adult and both pages of the form must be sent into the council.

Q: Do I have to request a copy of the FBI Fingerprint Based Clearance Results?
A: Yes, you must request a copy of the results, which will be called “unofficial results.” The council cannot accept just a copy of the fingerprint registration.

Q: When I process my PA State Police Criminal History Clearance on-line, will a certificate showing the results be created automatically?
A: No – you’ll need to follow the prompts to create and print the certificate, which will have a watermark on it. (There will be a page with “Certification Form” in blue that you’ll click on, which will then be followed by a question requiring you to click “OK” and then the certificate will open up for you to print.)

Q: Do I need to have all three of my clearances before I submit them to the council?
A: It is best if all of the documents are submitted together. If you are a new volunteer and completing the BSA application, as well, then you can attach copies of your clearances to that form and submit the entire “package” at one time.

Q: Do I have to provide the council with paper copies of the three clearances or is there a way to send them electronically?
A: You may upload your clearance paperwork to the council electronically via our Background Clearances System at: http://tinyurl.com/qc6fhfm
(Note: It is recommended that you install a .pdf converter to allow you to print and then upload the forms. Free .pdf converters are available from: http://www.cutepdf.com/Products/CutePDF/writer.asp or, http://www.primopdf.com/

If you are a new volunteer and uploading your clearances electronically, please attach a note to the BSA Adult Application when you submit it explaining that you have already uploaded your clearances to the council. The Registrar will then confirm receipt of your clearances by referencing the BSA PA Record clearance database.

Q: Who do I contact at the council office if I have questions?
A: The primary contact is Mitzi Perry, Administrative Manager, and she may be reached at mitzi.perry@scouting.org or (717) 827-4576.