Local school administrators have voiced growing concern over the administrative and monetary consequences of changes made to Pennsylvania’s Child Protective Services law in 2014. The problem is that changes to the law, part of Keep Kids Safe PA, were all related to 24 components of legislation having to with child safety, and as a result, require multiple layers of screening. The required screenings, which range from the local police level to the federal level, also must be carried out on volunteer workers, including tutors, school coaches, chaperones, or anyone that has access to school children, and is not supervised. Further, the screenings must be renewed every five years.
People working outside of educational institutions are also affected by the changes to the Child Protective Services law. Administrators in Pennsylvania school districts are already becoming familiar with the new rules and investing their valuable time in the difficult task of managing the necessary background checks on volunteer workers.
Some school administrators expressed concern that people will stop volunteering because of the time and money required to undergo background checks. However, the governor subsequently waived the background check fee for volunteers, and reduced it for regular employees, who also must go through the same screening process.
As part of their FBI criminal background check, volunteers must provide fingerprints, although they can do other parts of the screening online. Companies in Pennsylvania that provide fingerprint services, like UPS, have seen their demand more than double since the new screening requirements for volunteers were put in place.
While administrators feel the burden of the extra time and money needed to comply with the new rules, on balance it is a good change, since Keep Kids Safe PA does just that, ensuring the safety and welfare of its children. The new screening requirements mean there is little or no chance that someone with a criminal history will have access to children. All in all, Kids Safe PA legislation has been successful at accomplishing the movement’s goals.