PA Act 153, also known as Pennsylvania Act 153, is an important law that came into effect during October 2014 in response to the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky sex scandal.

It is a state-wide law that focuses on ensuring everyone working with children is properly vetted before they begin their position.

What Is PA Act 153?

Act 153 is in place to help create a much safer environment for children throughout the state. It does that by ensuring any person 14 years or older who comes into contact with children, either through paid or volunteer work, must undergo a thorough and detailed child abuse/criminal background check.

As of December 31st, 2014, everyone who falls into the above category must have a child abuse clearance to work or volunteer with children. In addition, all of the criminal clearances must be renewed once every 60 months.

That renewal process helps to ensure that every background check stays up to date.

The Process of Background Checks

To comply with the guidelines set out by PA Act 153, everyone affected by it must undergo three different background checks. They are child abuse clearance, criminal history, and federal criminal history.

Criminal clearances are collected from the PA State Police (PATCH) system, while child abuse clearances are obtained through the Department of Public Welfare, and federal history is taken through FBI fingerprint screening.

Though some people may have had those background checks done in the past, they will need to be renewed if they are expired.

Certain volunteers may also have to follow different guidelines depending on if they’ve lived in Pennsylvania for the last 10 years or if their volunteer time is less than 30 days.

How PA Act 153 Impacts the People

PA Act 153 casts a broad net that covers the state. Its rules affect any organization, profit or otherwise, that deals with children. That includes places like schools, churches, day care centers, and after-school clubs.

All employees working with children need to undergo a background check for their child abuse clearances as of December 31st, 2014, while volunteers need to get theirs as of July 1st, 2015.

That wide reach helps everyone know their kids are working with trusted individuals.

Though some companies or businesses, such as non-profit organizations, may worry about the cost of having all of their employees scanned, there are some great alternatives out there. Volunteers have their background check fees waived as well.

Knowing Your State

It is not always easy to understand or keep up with recent laws but knowing how they impact you or those around you is important. If you work with or plan to work with children inside the state, you need to be ready to undergo the proper screening process and background check.

Getting criminal clearances or child abuse clearances is not a hard goal to achieve, it just takes a little bit of time. As long as you know how to go about it and what you’ll need, everything will go smoothly.

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Legislative Data Processing Center. (n.d.). 2014 Act 153. Retrieved from

Request a Criminal History Record. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Governor Wolf Waives Volunteer Background Check Fee. (2017, March 15). Retrieved from