Jun. 17, 2015

HARRISBURG – In order to further clarify the Commonwealth’s child protection laws and provide in statute the waivers of two child abuse clearance fees for volunteers, Rep. Judy Ward (R-Blair) joined her colleagues today in the passage of House Bill 1276.

“The state’s new child protection laws were sorely needed and will go a long way in helping to further safeguard our children; however, I know from speaking with folks in the district that the language in the laws led to some confusion about who exactly need clearances,” said Ward. “I was happy to support House Bill 1276, which will clarify the law and make it more affordable for volunteers to get their clearances.”

House Bill 1276 would further clarify the types of volunteers and employees who are required to obtain background checks to work with children. Under the bill, only those volunteers with direct and routine interaction with a child as part of a child care service, a school, or a program, activity or service would need to obtain the clearances. For example, a Sunday school teacher and Scout leader would need the clearances, while a cook at a youth camp, a parent dropping off baked goods at a school or a guest reader/performer would not.

Volunteers applying for child abuse and state police clearances would have their fees waived under House Bill 1276. In addition, the legislation would also permit employers or organizations to accept non-original copies of the required documents on file, rather than the original copies needing to be maintained by the employer or organization.

“House Bill 1276 does a good job at clearing up any confusion within the law and making sure those needing clearances are individuals who consistently have direct contact with children,” said Ward. “The safety of our children is paramount, yet we also need to create an environment where people are not discouraged from stepping up to volunteer within our communities. House Bill 1276 strikes an appropriate balance of those goals.”

Ward recently held a seminar in East Freedom with a representative from Blair County Children and Youth to explain to people what the new laws mean in terms of obtaining child abuse clearances and reporting requirements.

House Bill 1276 now goes to the state Senate for further consideration. More information about the Child Protective Services Law is available at www.KeepKidsSafe.pa.gov.

Representative Judy Ward
80th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Tricia Lehman
RepJudyWard.com / Facebook.com/RepWard