The following outlines the additional screening and mandated reporting requirements of host families and volunteers who live in the state of Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Additional Screening Requirements
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania mandates that any resident of Pennsylvania applying for a volunteer role responsible for a child’s welfare or having direct contact with children must undergo the following clearances. These clearances are in addition to the AFS-USA screening process and criminal background check.
3) FBI fingerprint-based federal criminal history search (This clearance is only required if an applicant has not lived in Pennsylvania for the entirety of the past 10 years. If an applicant has lived in Pennsylvania for the past 10 years, a signed waiver form must be submitted to affirm this in writing.)
Who is required to complete these clearances?
All volunteers and all host family members 18 years and older responsible for the direct care and/or supervision of an AFS-USA student residing in Pennsylvania must complete these clearances in order for AFS-USA to be in compliance with Pennsylvania Commonwealth laws. For host families, the clearances are required for the host parent(s) and any additional adults living in the home who may be responsible for the welfare of the student (eg: a nanny).
Are these clearances required for short-term and event host families?
Clearances are required for all host families regardless of duration of hosting.
Do clearances need to be submitted in order for an applicant to begin hosting or volunteering?
Host family applications and volunteer registrations/re-registrations will not be approved until the clearances are completed and submitted to AFS-USA by the applicant.
How long are these clearances valid for?
Clearances are valid for 60 months.
Can clearances be re-used from another organization?
If an applicant has already undergone these clearances for another volunteer position or for employment, they can be re-used to be an AFS-USA host family or volunteer as long as they remain valid.
Are there costs associated with these clearances?
The state police criminal record and child abuse registry checks are free for applicants who have not previously undergone these clearances within the past 57 months. The FBI fingerprint check costs $21.35. AFS-USA will reimburse any applicants who must undergo an FBI fingerprint check.
Is a Social Security Number required to complete these clearances?
A Social Security Number is not required to submit the clearances however not providing one could delay processing times. Please note that a Social Security Number is still required in order to complete the AFS-USA criminal background check.
How are these clearances submitted?
Applicants can apply for the state police and child abuse checks online. Applicants needing to undergo the FBI fingerprint search must register online and then go to a certified location to be fingerprinted.
For a step-by-step guide to submitting each clearance, please reference the following:
- How to Submit a Pennsylvania State Police Criminal History Check
- How to Submit a Child Abuse History Certification
- How to Register for an FBI Fingerprint Search
How does AFS-USA receive the results of an applicant's clearances?
Applicants will receive the results of their clearances directly and must send them to AFS-USA. AFS-USA does not receive results from the agencies conducting the searches. Clearances can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or faxed to 646-937-6050.
After an applicant completes the clearances and submits them to AFS-USA, do they have to be re-sent to AFS-USA should that applicant apply to host or volunteer again?
Clearances will be kept on file by AFS-USA and do not need to be re-sent in the case of a repeat host family or re-registering volunteer for as long as they remain valid.
For more information on these requirements, please see http://keepkidssafe.pa.gov/cs/groups/webcontent/documents/document/C_135249.pdf.
Pennsylvania Mandated Reporting Requirements
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania mandates that any "individual paid or unpaid, who, on the basis of the individual's role as an integral part of a regularly scheduled program, activity or service, is a person responsible for the child’s welfare or has direct contact with children" is considered to be a mandated reporter.
Are AFS-USA host families and student considered mandated reporters?
Yes. AFS-USA host families and volunteers having direct contact with minor students are considered mandated reporters under Pennsylvania law.
Does AFS-USA provide any training on mandated reporting?
The Pennsylvania Child Welfare Resource Center provides a webinar training on mandated reporting. Completion of this webinar is not required by AFS-USA or Pennsylvania law in order to host or volunteer with AFS-USA and is provided as a resource only. (NOTE - this course is a 3-credit-hour course and is timed, i.e. you must spend a certain amount of time on each slide before you are allowed to advance to the next slide (even if you are done with reading it or have answered a question correctly). If you want to take this course, please allow three hours in order to complete it.)
For more information on mandated reporters and reporting child abuse, please see http://keepkidssafe.pa.gov/cs/groups/webcontent/documents/document/c_137646.pdf