Child Safety


Background  |  Required Checks  |  Additional Training  |  Safety Policies  |  More information


To report suspected child abuse go to or call 1-800-932-0313.



In 2014 Pennsylvania enacted legislation to strengthen the protection of the Commonwealth’s children with more stringent criminal background check requirements for those who work with children and youth.

Under Pennsylvania law all church employees and volunteers who work with children and youth (age 18 and younger) must have current background checks. Checks must be updated every 60 months.

Congregations must ensure that staff and volunteers have the proper clearances and keep the background checks on file at the church.

  • Congregations have until Dec. 31, 2015 (one year after the effective date of the law) to have current background checks on all employees.
  • For volunteers who were in place prior to August 25, 2015, checks must be current by July 1, 2016.
  • New volunteers approved after July 1, 2015 must have current clearances before serving.

In addition, the law classifies clergy and all paid staff and volunteers who work with children and youth in any capacity as “mandated reporters” who must directly report suspected abuse to child welfare officials. “Mandated reporters” can no longer discharge their responsibility by reporting to a supervisor. Willful failure to report suspected child abuse can result in misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on the severity of the alleged abuse.


Required Background Checks

Please note: Links on this page to outside agencies are accurate as of Feb. 10, 2017 but may be changed by those agencies.

Information on the required checks can be found on the Department of Human Services website at Please check here for up-to-date links and forms.

  • Report of criminal history from the Pennsylvania State Police: Online application.  Cost $8.00 for employees, free for volunteers
  • Child Abuse History Clearance from Department of Human Services:  Online applicationCost $8.00 for employees, free for volunteers
  • FBI Fingerprint clearance for employees, and volunteers who have resided in Pennsylvania less than 10 years. Cost $27.50. For more information and to begin the registration process, go to

For more guidance on requirements for volunteers please read this DHS FAQ.


Additional Training Required

In addition, according to Act 31 all licensed professionals, employees who have direct contact with children, and foster parents are also required to receive additional training on recognizing and reporting child abuse.

It is recommended that all pastors and rostered leaders whose daily work brings them into contact with children, and all church staff and volunteers working with children complete a FREE three-hour online training conducted by the University of Pittsburgh at


Safety Policies

It is recommended that all congregations should update their Safe Church Policies to reflect the changes in the law.


For Further Information

For further information, after you have completed the online training, email the Rev. Dr. Dolores E. Littleton, LMFT, advisor to the bishop for fitness for ministry. Please note: Links on this page to outside agencies are accurate as of Feb. 10, 2017 but may be changed by those agencies.