Amendments to Pennsylvania’s Child Protective Services law require that all teachers, staff, administrators, contractors and volunteers working with students have to undergo background checks, and these must be repeated every 36 months. The Ambler Gazette reports that the “rules are based on recommendations from a Task Force on Child Protection established by the state Legislature after the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal.”
Under the new rules, background checks of current employees are good for three years before needing to be renewed. Those employees who have not had a background check in the past three years have until December 31, 2015 to obtain their updated background. Previously, employees underwent background screening when hired, but did not have to repeat the process again.
The new rules have been both praised and criticized. First and foremost, they provide additional protection for children. Often when a person is hired they undergo a background check when they first begin, but nothing else from then on. Repeat background checks every few years are a step towards improved protection.
But one major concern that has been cited is that the new law will reduce the number of people who volunteer at schools – whether it is due to cost or the inconvenience of doing a background check for people who help out just a few times per year.
As we reported in an earlier blog, updated background screening rules have also been implemented at colleges in Pennsylvania. The new regulations at both levels show that at least in these matters, lawmakers are doing what they can to protect minors. The resulting policies may at times be inconvenient for some, but it is well worth it to safeguard students.